Boyle Captains Connacht For Benetton Test

Andy Friend has named his side to face Benetton in the Guinness PRO14 with just one change to the team that was originally due to play Ospreys last week.

That game was postponed due to a COVID-19 case in the Welsh club. The one change is at scrum-half where Caolin Blade has recovered from a recent hamstring injury to start his first game since late October, with Colm Reilly named among the replacements.

“Last week’s late postponement was very disappointing and put us in a tricky position regarding our selection for this week” explains Friend.

“In the end we believe it’s only right that the squad selected last week will get another chance to impress. We’ve got 7 weeks of European games and interpros ahead of us, so we’d like to get minutes under the belts of as many players as possible” added Friend.

“Home games in the PRO14 are where we need to build up our points tally and tomorrow will be no different” explained Friend.

“It’s important we build on the Zebre win two weeks ago by showing that same level of physicality and taking our changes when they come. If we do that I know that’ll put us in a good place” added Friend.

Paul Boyle is named as captain for the first time, named at number 8 with flankers Sean O’Brien and Conor Oliver alongside him in the back row.

Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt and Jack Aungier make up the front row, while locks Eoghan Masterson and Gavin Thornbury complete the pack.

Conor Fitzgerald partners Blade at out-half, with Tom Daly and Sammy Arnold named at centre and Alex Wootton, Peter Sullivan and John Porch completing the side as the back three.

Among the replacements are Ultan Dillane who has been released from international duty, and Academy player Sean O’Brien who’ll get another chance to make his debut.

Connacht: John Porch, Peter Sullivan, Sammy Arnold, Tom Daly, Alex Wootton, Conor Fitzgerald, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Jack Aungier, Eoghan Masterson, Gavin Thornbury, Sean O’Brien, Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle (C),

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Paddy McAllister, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Jarrad Butler, Colm Reilly, Sean O’Brien, Matt Healy

Connacht v Benetton

Friday 4th December

The Sportsground, Kick-Off 7.35pm

Note: All Connacht players and management produced negative results in this week’s round of PCR testing.