Full back Tiernan O’Halloran has returned from a leg injury to take his place in the Connacht side to face Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup in the Sportsground tomorrow at 3pm. The injury ruled O’Halloran out of all three of Connacht’s interpro fixtures over the Christmas period. He comes into a back line that also includes a new midfield pairing with Bundee Aki and Kyle Godwin both coming back into the starting team.
Following his contract extension earlier this week, Jack Carty continues at out half where he is partnered by former Sale Sharks player James Mitchell. In the front row Denis Buckley is named at loosehead having recovered from illness that ruled him out of the clash with Munster. Buckley will make his 150th appearance for his province against the Premiership side following his late withdrawal last week.
There is also a new second row partnership with Ultan Dillane and James Cannon coming into the side, while in the back row Captain Jarrad Butler returns from injury and is named at number 8 alongside James Connolly and Eoghan Masterson.
With Connacht sitting just three points behind Sale in Pool 3, the result on Saturday will have a huge bearing on who qualifies for the knock out stages of the competition. The game is not televised, but you can listen to full coverage of the game with Rob Murphy, Joe Healy and William Davies on galwaybayfm.ie
Connacht team v Sale:
15. Tiernan O’Halloran, 14. Cian Kelleher, 13. Kyle Godwin, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Matt Healy, 10. Jack Carty, 9. James Mitchell, 1. Denis Buckley, 2. Tom McCartney, 3. Finlay Bealham, 4. Ultan Dillane, 5. James Cannon, 6. Eoghan Masterson, 7. James Connolly, 8. Jarrad Butler (Capt).
Replacements: 16. Shane Delahunt, 17. Matthew Burke, 18. Conor Carey, 19. Quinn Roux, 20. Colby Fainga’a, 21. Caolin Blade, 22. David Horwitz, 23. Darragh Leader.
Meanwhile, Sale Sharks have also named their team for their European Challenge Cup Pool 3 Round 5 game against Connacht. Josh Beaumont, and Byron McGuigan miss the game through injury. Kieran Wilkinson makes his fourth European Challenge Cup start this season at fly half, whilst on the bench Andrei Ostrikov returns after suspension and Cameron Redpath is included.
Sale Sharks Team: 15.Chris Ashton; 14.Denny Solomona, 13. Sam James, 12.James O’Connor, 11. Arron Reed; 10.Kieran Wilkinson, 9.Faf de Klerk; 1.Ross Harrison, 2.Rob Webber, 3.WillGriff John, 4.Bryn Evans, 5.James Phillips, 6.Jono Ross (capt.), 7.Tom Curry, 8.Josh Strauss.
Replacements: 16.Curtis Langdon, 17.Tom Bristow, 18. Joe Jones, 19.Andrei Ostrikov, 20.Ben Curry, 21.Will Cliff, 22.Luke James, 23.Cameron Redpath