Carty cleared for Zebre trip as Aki and Roux ruled out

Connacht’s pivotal outhalf recovers from bicep injury but player protocols trim squad

 

Connacht’s Jack Carty has been passed fit to travel to Parma for Saturday’s PRO14 meeting with Zebre, but unavailable are fellow Ireland players Bundee Aki and Quinn Roux.

The Ireland outhalf suffered a bicep injury in Connacht’s disappointing 20-10 Challenge Cup defeat to Sale Sharks at the weekend, and was replaced early in the second half. However, the move was precautionary for the 26-years-old who is currently the province’s only fit No 10.

“It was like a dead leg, but on the bicep, and his power was down,” says Connacht’s backs coach Nigel Carolan. “To be honest we didn’t want him to take another bang and risk this weekend.”

Carty is pivotal for Connacht as they seek to overturn their recent poor record in the Italian city, having lost on the two previous occasions.

“Last year Zebre coach Michael Bradley was certainly one who said we let them off the hook by not playing Jack. His tactical kicking game is one of the best around, and when we didn’t play him last year, it was relief for Michael Bradley, so we hope not to make it as comfortable for him this weekend.”

Definitely ruled out is Finlay Bealham, who could well miss the remainder of the season. The tighthead prop was to have another scan last evening to reassess any damage that may have been missed.

“It was pretty ugly, like a shark bite. On the initial assessment it wasn’t that bad, but just to make sure, they are going to root around because some of the consultants reckon it would have been impossible not to have had some sort of internal damage, but we will wait and see.

Never going to be in contention

“He was looking for a glove [so he could play], something special and it had to be silver to attract attention, but he was never going to be in contention. It will be touch-and-go the following week, but we are optimistic for Munster in three weeks.”

Bealham’s replacement, Dominic Robertson-McCoy was also suffering from back spasms, but Carolan is confident he will be fully fit with the necessary rest, while Conor Carey is also an option.

Aki and Roux will be rested as part of Ireland’s player management protocols, but will be available thereafter, while Tiernan O’Halloran, Jarrad Butler and Ultan Dillane are back after a bruising victory over Benetton the previous week.

“We pretty much have a full deck. Some players were rested last week and that was the risk – you lack that cohesion in the game last Friday, but all those players are back, fully fit and available.”

With Connacht and Cardiff currently locked in a battle for third place in Conference A, Carolan says Connacht need to perform.

“The focus is purely on ourselves. We are not going to take the foot off the pedal this Saturday. Historically, Connacht do not have a good record over there, so our game has to focused, direct, and one we can implement that will punish them. If Munster can do a favour for us on Friday night [against Cardiff], it will help, but we have a job to do on Saturday and we are not looking beyond that.”

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