Connacht call on quartet of Ireland call-ups for Ospreys trip

All four players picked for November series by Joe Schmidt will line out in Bridgend

Bundee Aki starts in the Connacht midfield for Friday’s trip to play the Ospreys in Bridgend. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

Bundee Aki starts in the Connacht midfield for Friday’s trip to play the Ospreys in Bridgend. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho

 

Ospreys v Connacht, Brewery Field, Bridgend (8.05pm, Live on TG4, Premier Sports)

Connacht coach Andy Friend has included the province’s four representatives in the Ireland squad for the November Test series, Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Quinn Roux for a tricky away assignment against the Allen Clarke-coached Welsh club.

It’s a strong Connacht side with Tom Farrell renewing his midfield partnership with Aki, the in-form Jack Carty returns after being rested against the Sale Sharks in the European Challenge Cup last week, while promising flanker Seán O’Brien has recovered from injury to take his place in a backrow that includes captain Jarrad Butler and the former Ireland Under-20 captain Paul Boyle.

Friend admitted: “We have a few of our more experienced players coming back into the side which is a big boost to the squad. Caolan Blade has done really well for us over the past few games, but it is great to have Kieran back as well. He is a really important player for us.”

The Ospreys elected to move the game to Bridgend instead of their normal home ground of the Liberty stadium and they too have selected a relatively strong team while also accommodating a couple of academy players in scrumhalf Harri Morgan and centre Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler. The clash between Connacht’s Niyi Adeolokun and Keelan Giles, two out-and-out speedsters, will be worth watching.

Connacht are coming off the back of victories against the Scarlets and Ulster in two of their last three games in the Guinness Pro14 and will look to continue the impetus from those results, given the side that they have brought to Wales.

OSPREYS: D Evans; H Dirksen, C Allen, T Thomas-Wheeler, K Giles; S Davies, H Morgan; R Jones, S Otten, T Botha; L Ashley, J King; D Lydiate, O Cracknell (capt), R McCusker.

Replacements: S Baldwin, G Thomas, A Jeffries, J Ratti, G Volpi, M Aubrey, J Hook, T Williams.

CONNACHT: T O’Halloran; N Adeolokun, T Farrell, B Aki, C Kelleher; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, Q Roux; S O’Brien, J Butler, P Boyle.

Replacements: S Delahunt, C O’Donnell, C Carey, J Cannon, C Fainga’a, C Blade, C Fitzgerald, K Godwin.

Referee: M Adamson (Scotland)

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