7 December 2023

~2 minutes read

Bundee Aki returns to Connacht team for Champions Cup opener

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Bundee Aki returns to Connacht team for Champions Cup opener

Bundee Aki has been handed his first Connacht start of the season in tomorrow’s Investec Champions Cup opener against Bordeaux-Begles at The Sportsground (k/o 8pm). 

The World Player of the Year nominee has recovered from a hamstring injury to make his first appearance since Ireland’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.

His inclusion is one of five changes from the side that started last week’s game against Leinster, with Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Joe Joyce and Andrew Smith also coming into the starting XV.

Dave Heffernan joins Buckley and Bealham in an experienced front row, while Darragh Murray is retained in the second row. The back row is unchanged from last week with number 8 Sean Jansen beside flankers Cian Prendergast and Shamus Hurley-Langton.

Caolin Blade and JJ Hanrahan continue their half-back partnership, while the remaining backline is reshuffled. Cathal Forde moves from 12 to 13 to partner Aki in the centre, while Byron Ralston shifts to the wing and Mack Hansen moves to full-back. Smith completes the side from the opposite wing.

8pm, Friday 8th December – The Sportsground

15. Mack Hansen (29)
14. Byron Ralston (22)
13. Cathal Forde (19)
12. Bundee Aki (127)
11. Andrew Smith (4)
10. JJ Hanrahan (6)
9. Caolin Blade (177)
1. Denis Buckley (234)
2. Dave Heffernan (184)
3. Finlay Bealham (192)
4. Darragh Murray (14)
5. Joe Joyce (6)
6. Cian Prendergast (53)
7. Shamus Hurley-Langton (26)
8. Seán Jansen (2)

16. Tadgh McElroy (6)
17. Peter Dooley (24)
18. Jack Aungier (55)
19. Niall Murray (62)
20. Conor Oliver (69)
21. Michael McDonald *
22. David Hawkshaw (19)
23. John Porch (82)

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