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Copeland to make Connacht debut as Bundee starts against Scarlets

Andy Friend has made six changes to his starting XV for the round four clash in Galway.
Sep 21st 2018, 12:16 PM 8,622 13

ROBIN COPELAND WILL make his long-awaited Connacht debut in Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 clash with Scarlets in Galway [KO 5.15pm, TG4/Premier Sports] after recovering from the hip injury which had delayed his seasonal bow. 

The 30-year-old summer arrival from Munster appeared during the province’s pre-season programme but had been sidelined for the opening weeks of the season.

Robin Copeland makes a break Copeland featured against Bristol in pre-season. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Copeland’s selection at number eight is one of six changes head coach Andy Friend has made from last week’s defeat to Edinburgh, with Bundee Aki also named to start for the first time this term. 

The Ireland international came off the bench at Murrayfield but comes into the team for the visit of Scarlets, forming a midfield partnership with Tom Farrell who has recovered from a stomach bug.

Winger Cian Kelleher will look to continue his excellent early-season form in a back three with Matt Healy and Tiernan O’Halloran, while Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion form the half-back pairing once again. 

Up front, Denis Buckley is back in at loosehead to make his third start of the campaign while Gavin Thornbury is named alongside Quinn Roux in the second row, with Ultan Dillane on the bench. 

Copeland is named at the back of the scrum and is partnered in an exciting back row unit with captain Jarrad Butler and blindside Sean O’Brien.

Connacht have lost two of their three opening Pro14 games and will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat with a strong performance in front of the Sportsground tomorrow evening. 

“Scarlets are a quality side and we expect a huge challenge from them,” Friend said.

“They are one of the top teams in this competition, so it is a massive game for us. We have a really healthy competition in our squad at the moment and that is exactly what we need as the big games keep coming.”

Meanwhile, Scarlets welcome out-half Rhys Patchell back from concussion and though openside James Davies misses out through injury, new South African signing Uzair Casseim is fit to feature on the bench.


15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Cian Kelleher
13. Tom Farrell
12. Bundee Aki
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Gavin Thornbury
5. Quinn Roux
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Jarrad Butler (captain)
8. Robin Copeland


16. Tom McCartney
17. Peter McCabe
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. Ultan Dillane
20. Colby Fainga’a
21. Caolin Blade
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Niyi Adeolokun


15. Leigh Halfpenny
14. Tom Prydie
13. Kieron Fonotia
12. Hadleigh Parkes
11. Johnny McNicholl
10. Rhys Patchell
9. Gareth Davies

1. Phil Price
2. Ken Owens (captain)
3. Samson Lee
4. Jake Ball
5. Steve Cummins
6. Ed Kennedy
7. Lewis Rawlins
8. Blade Thomson


16. Ryan Elias
17. Wyn Jones
18. Werner Kruger
19. David Bulbring
20. Uzair Cassiem
21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne
22. Angus O’Brien
23. Paul Asquith

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