Jarrad Butler returns to lead Connacht in Cardiff

Andy Friend makes 10 changes to his starting XV with six players on international duty

Jarrad Butler will lead Connacht against Cardiff. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Jarrad Butler will lead Connacht against Cardiff. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Pro 14, Cardiff Blues v Connacht, Saturday January 26th, Arms Park (kick-off 5.15pm, TG4)

Andy Friend has made 10 changes to his Connacht side for Saturday’s trip to play Conference A rivals Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park.

Tiernan O’Halloran is named at fullback with Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher on the wings, with Tom Daly and Kyle Godwin in midfield.

Jack Carty’s Ireland call-up means David Horowitz takes the number 10 jersey while Jack Mitchell starts at nine, with Caolin Blade also on international duty.

Denis Buckley and Finaly Bealham start at prop with Dave Heffernan, who signed a new contract with the province this week, between them at hooker.

Cillian Gallagher will make his first start of the season in the engineroom with James Cannon, while skipper Jarrad Butler returns at number eight - Eoin McKeon and Colby Fainga’a join him in the backrow.

Ahead of the trip to the Welsh capital, Friend said: “We have won eight of our last ten games so we go into the game with confidence but we know what a tough team Cardiff are to play, especially when they are at home.

“These inter-conference games have a huge bearing on the overall standings in the Pro14 so we are fully aware of the importance of the fixture.

“We have made a few changes to our match day squad with players away on international duty and a few injuries to contend with, but we have picked a team that we have full confidence in to go to Cardiff and get a result.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Daly, Matt Healy; David Horwitz, James Mitchell; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, James Cannon, Cillian Gallagher, Eoin McKeon, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (capt). Replacements: Tom McCartney, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Joe Maksymiw, Paul Boyle, Angus Lloyd, Conor Fitzgerald, Stephen Fitzgerald.

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