1 March 2024

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Connacht v Scarlets – United Rugby Championship Preview and Team News

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Connacht v Scarlets – United Rugby Championship Preview and Team News

Connacht take on the Scarlets on Saturday evening in the Dexcom Stadium in Galway in the United Rugby Championship and the big team news is Eoin de Buitléar will make his first start for Connacht. The An Cheatrú Rua hooker came through the ranks at An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí and Scoil Chuimsiteach Chiaráin in Connemara, and has so far made four appearances off the bench. In what will be a proud day for both club and school, de Buitlear along with the rest of the starting XV will wear the socks of his first club/school as part of URC’s Origin Round.

His inclusion is one of five changes from the side that beat Cardiff last time out, with Peter Dooley, Gavin Thornbury, the fit-again Sean Jansen, and Byron Ralston – who returns from suspension – all back in the side. Jack Aungier completes the front row, Niall Murray (Buccaneers RFC) partners Thornbury in the second row, and Cian Prendergast and Shamus Hurley-Langton move to blindside and openside flanker respectively. 

Caolin Blade (Monivea RFC) again captains the side with JJ Hanrahan alongside him, while the centre partnership of Cathal Forde (Corinthians RFC / The Jes) and David Hawkshaw is unchanged. Andrew Smith and Tiernan O’Halloran (Connemara RFC / Garbally College) are on the left wing and full-back respectively, with Ralston named on the right wing. 

Commenting ahead of the game, head coach Pete Wilkins says: “It’s been 6 weeks since our last home game, so we’re delighted to be back in front of our home fans. Ticket sales have been brilliant all week which says a lot about the support we’re currently getting, so it’s up to us now to give them the performance they deserve and make it 3 straight wins in the URC. We’re also looking forward to marking Origin Round. All our players are proud of their roots, but not least of all Eoin and the journey he’s been on since his days growing up in Carraroe. It’s a proud moment for him, the de Buitlear family and everyone at his club and school who helped him along the way.” 

CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS SCARLETS
17:05, Saturday 2nd March 2024 @ Dexcom Stadium  

Number/name/caps 

15. Tiernan O’Halloran (230)

14. Byron Ralston(26)

13. David Hawkshaw (23)

12. Cathal Forde (22)

11. Andrew Smith (8)

10. JJ Hanrahan (13)

9. Caolin Blade (183) (C)

1. Peter Dooley (30

2. Eoin de Buitléar (4)

3. Jack Aungier (61)

4. Niall Murray (67)

5. Gavin Thornbury (73)

6. Cian Prendergast (60)

7. Shamus Hurley-Langton (31)

8. Sean Jansen (4)

16. Dave Heffernan (190)

17. Denis Buckley (241)

18. Sam Illo (15)

19. Oisín Dowling (54)

20. Sean O’Brien (5)

21. Michael McDonald (6)

22. Jack Carty (205)

23. Conor Oliver (76)

Scarlets: Ioan Nicholas (Pontyberem),Tomi Lewis (Gwernyfed), Johnny Williams (Rams), Eddie James (Carmarthen Quins), Steff Evans (Felinfoel), Dan Jones (Carmarthen Quins), Efan Jones (Wrexham), Wyn Jones (Llandovery), Shaun Evans (Felinfoel), Sam Wainwright (Rhyl & District), Alex Craig (Stewartry), Jac Price (Carmarthen Quins), Sam Lousi (Bay Roskill Vikings; capt), Dan Davis (Llandeilo), Vaea Fifita (Lions, Tonga)

Replacements: Eduan Swart (Pumas), Steff Thomas (Newcastle Emlyn), Joe Jones (Mold), Morgan Jones (Hinckley), Ben Williams (Gilfach Goch), Archie Hughes (Tenby), Charlie Titcombe (Stamford), Ryan Conbeer (Narberth)

Ahead of tomorrow evening’s game, William Davies caught up with Connacht Forwards Coach Collie Tucker…

William also spoke to Connacht players Cathal Forde and Andrew Smith in the build-up to the home tie with the Scarlets…

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