Mils Muliaina returns to Connacht line-up for Cardiff trip

Pat Lam makes three changes to team for Pro12 encounter

Connacht have made three teams to the team to face Cardiff on Friday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht have made three teams to the team to face Cardiff on Friday night. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Last week’s try scorer Tiernan O’Halloran has retained his place for Connacht’s trip to Cardiff on Friday night, moving out to the wing to make space for Mils Muliaina at fullback.

Local lad O’Halloran made his first start of the season in the province’s impressive 53-5 win over Benetton Treviso on Sunday. There have been three changes in all from the team which started that game.

Head coach Pat Lam says he has adjusted accordingly to the short five-day turnaround, the long travel to Cardiff , and the demands of the 4G Cardiff Arms Park pitch.

In the second row he has promoted 23-year-old Mick Kearney to the starting lineup while George Naoupu at number eight is the third change.

Darragh Leader returns from injury to take his place on the bench and his fellow Galway-born team mate Andrew Browne is included amongst the replacement forwards.

Lam says that like every game from now until the end of the season, four points against Cardiff is massively important in the context of the team’s “ultimate goal.”

He says; “With another physical challenge away from home, it’s great to be able to bring in fresh legs up front with Mick (Kearney), George (Naoupu) and Andrew (Browne) in addition to the leadership and experience from Mils (Muliaina) out the back.

“Challenges we face this week such as a short five-day turnaround, long travel, and 4G pitch were all identified early on and we tailored our preparation accordingly.

“We know how dangerous Cardiff can be, especially at home. They had a fantastic win against Edinburgh last weekend, playing more of an expansive game and stretching the defence to score some quality tries. Once again, we will need to perform as a team to secure the desired outcome that will leave us in a strong position before the break.”

CONNACHT: Mils Muliaina; Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Craig Ronaldson, John Cooney; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You; Mick Kearney, Aly Muldowney; John Muldoon, Jake Heenan, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Andrew Browne, Eoghan Masterson, Ian Porter, Jack Carty, Darragh Leader.

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