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Fitzgerald takes over 10 shirt as Connacht switch Carty to fullback

Andy Friend has made seven changes to refresh his side on a six-day turnaround between Gloucester clashes.

Conor Fitzgerald has earned the nod at 10.
Conor Fitzgerald has earned the nod at 10.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Andy Friend has placed his trust in Conor Fitzgerald as starting out-half for tomorrow’s Heineken Champions Cup clash with Gloucester at the Sportsground (kick-off 12.45, BT Sport).

The Munster native has been in excellent form for the western province this season and his performances have piled the pressure on Jack Carty since his return from the World Cup.

With Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy injured, Carty has been deployed at fullback to give Connacht an intriguing double-playmaker approach with John Porch reverting to the wing after his turn at 15 last week.

The western province have lost both of their away fixtures since recording an opening-round win over Montpelier in Galway and look unlikely to progress from the pool stage. However, a return to winning ways would keep the possibility of Champions Cup knockout rugby alive.

jack-carty Carty in training this week. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

On a six-day turnaround after the bonus point defeat in Kingsholm on Sunday, Friend has made seven changes to refresh his side. Fitzgerald’s addition is the only personnel change in the reshuffled back-line and there is wholesale change up front.

Peter McCabe, Dave Heffernan and Dominic Robertson-McCoy pack down in an all new front row, while Joe Maksimiw retains his place and is partnered by Ultan Dillane.

Jarrad Butler is back at openside with Colby Fainga’a sidelined. Eoin McKeon and Paul Boyle return to the fold with Eoghan Masterson and Robin Copeland on a bench with a 6-2 split.

Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20 lock Niall Murray is among those six forwards, while Tom Daly and Stephen Kerins are the back-line reserves available to Friend. 

Gloucester, meanwhile, have opted to make a change at 10 too with Danny Cipriani among six of last week’s starters moved to the bench for the afternoon kick-off in Galway.

Connacht

15. Jack Carty
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Kyle Godwin
12. Bundee Aki
11. John Porch
10. Conor Fitzgerald
9. Caolin Blade

1. Peter McCabe
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Dominic Robertson McCoy
4. Ultan Dillane
5. Joe Maksymiw
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jarrad Butler (Capt)
8. Paul Boyle

Replacements

16. Shane Delahunt
17. Denis Buckley
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Niall Murray
20. Eoghan Masterson 
21. Stephen Kerins
22. Tom Daly
23. Robin Copeland

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Gloucester

15. Matt Banahan
14. Louis Rees-Zammit
13. Billy Twelvetrees
12. Mark Atkinson
11. Ollie Thorley
10. Lloyd Evans
9. Callum Braley

1. Josh Hohneck
2. Todd Gleave
3. Fraser Balmain
4. Alex Craig
5. Gerbrandt Grobler
6. Freddie Clarke
7. Lewis Ludlow (Capt)
8. Ruan Ackermann

Replacements:

16. Franco Marais
17. Alex Seville
18. Jamal Ford-Robinson
19. Franco Mostert
20. Ben Morgan
21. Joe Simpson
22. Danny Cipriani
23. Chris Harris

Referee: Romain Poite (France)

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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