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Boost for Connacht's European hopes as Carty fit to start at out-half

Pat Lam makes five changes for “the biggest game in Connacht’s history.”

Carty, left, with Steve Crosbie who was drafted in to help ease Connacht's out-half crisis.
Carty, left, with Steve Crosbie who was drafted in to help ease Connacht's out-half crisis.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

OUT-HALF JACK Carty is fit to start Connacht’s make-or-break European showdown in Toulouse, giving Pat Lam’s side a temporary reprieve from their injury crisis.

The Westerners know that a win or draw in the Stade Ernest Wallon on Sunday [kick-off 3.15pm, Sky Sports] would guarantee their place in the quarter-finals — though they could also progress if they leave with a losing bonus point and deny Toulouse a try bonus.

Carty has missed the last two weeks with a knee injury, and with Marnitz Boshoff and Shane O’Leary also sidelined, Lam was forced to improvise and play scrum-half John Cooney at 10 in last week’s hammering of Zebre.

But Carty now returns as one of five changes for the game which Lam has billed as the biggest in the province’s history.

Fit-again Peter Robb starts at outside centre while there is further good news in the pack where Quinn Roux, Nepia Fox-Matamua and Jake Heenan have all been cleared to start as well.

“We are aware of the phenomenal challenge that awaits us in Toulouse on Sunday but these are the sort of games that you want to be a part of,” Lam said.

“It’s an opportunity as a player and as a team to put in a performance on the big stage.

“While the right outcome would be massive for Irish Rugby, the focus remains on executing our game plan in a pressure environment to get us the win we need.”

Connacht

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Peter Robb
12. Craig Ronaldson
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Quinn Roux
5. James Cannon
6. Nepia Fox-Matamua
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. John Andress
19. Sean O’Brien
20. Naulia Dawai
21. John Cooney
22. Tom Farrell
23. Danie Poolman

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Niall Kelly

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