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Friend shuffles his pack for Connacht team to face Toulouse

The province are looking to back up a brilliant win against Montpellier last week.

Dave Heffernan has been promoted to the starting XV.
Dave Heffernan has been promoted to the starting XV.
Image: Tom O’Hanlon/INPHO

ANDY FRIEND HAD made a number of changes to the Connacht team that pulled off a thrilling defeat of Montpellier as they prepare to visit French giants Toulouse on Saturday [KO 1pm, BT Sport].

With a number of players recovering from injury, the Connacht head coach has been able to inject some fresh faces into his side ahead of a massive challenge at the Stade Ernest Wallon, as well as reshuffling his backline.

Quinn Roux returns to the second row to partner Ultan Dillane and captains the side in place of Jarrad Butler. There are also two changes in the front row, with Dominic Robertson-McCoy keeping his place at tighthead, as Dave Heffernan comes in at hooker and Peter McCabe at loosehead.

In the back row, Eoghan Masterson comes in at blindside with Colby Fainga’a at openside and Robin Copeland remaining number eight.

The changes continue in the backline. Matt Healy is named at full back, with wings Kyle Godwin and John Porch completing the back three, while Tom Farrell comes into the midfield to line out alongside Tom Daly.

Caolin Blade makes his 100th appearance for his home province at scrum-half, with Conor Fitzgerald starting at out-half.

“We were happy with the character shown against Montpellier but we know we will need to improve as we travel away to Toulouse,” said Friend.

“We have seen the quality they have in the past few seasons in this competition and winning the Top 14 in France. However we are travelling with a squad that has a huge sense of belief that we can win the game on Saturday”.
“We are boosted this week with a number of players returning from injury and the real positive for us is that with a six day turnaround from the Montpellier game we have players coming in fresh into the squad. Saturday is another challenge for us but one we are really looking forward to.”

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15. Matt Healy
14. John Porch
13. Tom Farrell
12. Tom Daly
11. Kyle Godwin
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. Caolin Blade
1. Peter McCabe
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Quinn Roux
6. Eoghan Masterson
7. Colby Fainga’a
8. Robin Copeland
16. Shane Delahunt
17. Matthew Burke
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Joe Maksymiw
20. Paul Boyle
21. Angus Lloyd
22. Jack Carty
23. Peter Robb


15. Thomas Ramos
14. Yoann Huget
13. Sofiane Guitoune
12. Lucas Tauzin
11. Maxime Médard
10. Romain Ntamack
9. Sébastien Bézy
1. Cyril Baille
2. Peato Mauvaka
3. Charlie Faumuina
4. Richie Gray
5. Joe Tekori
6. Alban Placines
7. Rynhardt Elstadt
8. Jerome Kaine (captain)

16. Julien Marchand
17. Thomas du Toi
18. Dorian Aldegheri
19. Rory Arnold
20. Selevasio Tolofua
21. Francois Cros
22. Pita Ahki
23. Pierre Pages

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)

Murray Kinsella and Bernard Jackman join Gavan Casey in studio to preview the second weekend of Champions Cup action

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