The Connacht management team have welcomed back a number of Irish internationals for tomorrow’s crucial Christmas interpro with Ulster at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm).
There are 12 changes in all from the side that defeated Brive last week, with Shane Delahunt, Oisín Dowling and Bundee Aki the only players to retain their place in the starting XV.
Captain Jack Carty, Finlay Bealham, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver and John Porch all return after being rested for the two weeks of Challenge Cup rugby, while Mack Hansen has recovered from injury to also start.
Denis Buckley completes the front row with Delahunt and Bealham, while locks Josh Murphy and Niall Murray are paired together. Dowling retains his place at blindside flanker, with Oliver on the opposite side for his 50th appearance and Prendergast at number 8.
Caolin Blade is chosen at scrum-half while Tom Farrell partners Aki in the centre. With Hansen and Porch on the wings, Tiernan O’Halloran is named at full-back.
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS ULSTER RUGBY
Friday 23rd December, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (211)
14. John Porch (68)
13. Tom Farrell (86)
12. Bundee Aki (122)
11. Mack Hansen (20)
10. Jack Carty (186) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (157)
1. Denis Buckley (218)
2. Shane Delahunt (120)
3. Finlay Bealham (181)
4. Josh Murphy (7)
5. Niall Murray (44)
6. Oisín Dowling (34)
7. Conor Oliver (49)
8. Cian Prendergast (35)
16. Dave Heffernan (174)
17. Peter Dooley (9)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (73)
19. Shamus Hurley-Langton (8)
20. Jarrad Butler (103)
21. Kieran Marmion (218)
22. David Hawkshaw (9)
23. Adam Byrne (3)
Dan McFarland’s men will be looking to get back to winning ways as they face Interpro rivals, Connacht, this Friday (KO 7 35pm) at The Sportsground.
(15-9): Mike Lowry, Ethan McIlroy, Luke Marshall, Stuart McCloskey, Rob Lyttle, Nathan Doak, John Cooney;
(1-8): Rory Sutherland; Tom Stewart; Marty Moore; Alan O'Connor; Iain Henderson (Captain); David McCann; Marcus Rea; Nick Timoney.
Replacements: John Andrew; Eric O'Sullivan; Gareth Milasinovich; Sam Carter; Greg Jones; Dave Shanahan; Jake Flannery; Stewart Moore.