Connacht looking to consolidate top eight spot as Edinburgh visit the Sportsground

Connacht will be missing their Irish contingent while Jack Carthy’s availability is in doubt for Saturday’s encounter

Connacht will be without some key players for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship meeting with Edinburgh in the Sportsground as they aim to consolidate their top eight finish.

Grand Slam winners Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen are expected to return next week, and also absent are another eight players, including frontliners Finlay Bealham (knee), Denis Buckley (ankle) and Josh Murphy (concussion), while Jack Carty’s availability is also in doubt.

The Connacht outhalf has a hamstring injury and is “unlikely” to see action – the injury coming after recent calf and groin issues. And with Conor Fitzgerald unavailable for the remainder of the season following ankle surgery, Dave Hawkshaw is ready to take over the No 10 jersey, with Tom Daly prepared to fill the position if necessary.

Good news is the availability of hooker Dave Heffernan after a leg strain, while Eoin de Buitléar and Diarmuid Kilgallen have both recovered from finger issues.


Connacht will be wary of visitors Edinburgh who are seven points adrift of them in 12th place. And with Steve Diamond having taken over the coaching reins, the Scottish outfit is expected to produce a positive reaction to his appointment.

“Any time you bring a new coach in, you tend to get a reaction from the team,” admitted Connacht director of rugby Andy Friend. “So no doubt there will be a reaction from Edinburgh in Steve’s first week in the job.

“Whether three training runs is enough to change the way they play, I don’t think it is, so we are prepping as if they are the same Edinburgh we have been watching. But their players will turn up with an added sense of wanting to prove themselves.

“We don’t know if their Scottish internationals will be back, but whether they are or not, they are still a very formidable side, and with a new coach at the helm, they will be tougher.”

Connacht have confirmed a year’s contract extension for Paul Boyle, who has made 84 appearances since his debut in January 2018.

The backrow player, who has scored 20 tries for the club, has one Irish cap, having played against the USA in the summer internationals.

Head coach Pete Wilkins says Boyle is an established and important member of the backrow.

“We’ve seen him hit the heights of becoming an Irish international and I have no doubt he can get to that stage again,” said Wilkins.

“He’s a very popular member of the dressingroom, providing on-field and off-field leadership.”

Boyle says Connacht means a lot to him.

“I’ve loved working with the current coaching team and I’m also excited by what’s in store next season. My focus now is to help the club have a really big end to the season and then kick on again next year.