URC team news: Tiernan O’Halloran makes 200th Connacht appearance

Jake Flannery starts at outhalf for Munster; Leinster’s Will Connors returns from injury

Tiernan O’Halloran makes his 200th appearance for his home province on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Tiernan O’Halloran makes his 200th appearance for his home province on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

Tiernan O’Halloran will make a 200th appearance for Connacht when they host the Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground tomorrow (2.55 pm). The popular 30-year-old fullback, who has won six caps for Ireland, will be keen to celebrate the landmark achievement with a win.

Connacht head coach Andy Friend said: “To play 200 times for one club is a testament to his loyalty to Connacht, his dedication to the game, and his ability as a footballer. The fact that he’s reached the milestone for his home province, having come through the ranks at Connemara RFC and Garbally College, only adds to the achievement.

“(The) game is a really important one in the context of the URC standings. We don’t have many home games left so it’s crucial we pick up as many points as possible in these fixtures. The results of the last two weeks were disappointing so it’s up to all of us to ensure we do enough for 80 minutes to get the win.”

Cathal Forde, an important member of the Irish Under-20s last year, is named at outhalf in the absence of Jack Carty who is in camp with Ireland. Diarmuid Kilgllen gets a start on the left wing, while Kiernan Marmion returns at scrumhalf. There are wholesale changes to the pack but props Jordan Duggan, Greg McGrath and captain Jarrad Butler remain from the side that started in Paris.

Shayne Bolton and Oran McNulty are named in the replacements having recovered from their respective injuries.

Munster head coach Johann van Graan makes 11 changes from the side that beat Wasps 45-7 for the trip to face Zebre (5pm, Irish time). Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Jean Kleyn - he becomes the latest Munster centurion in terms of caps - and Jack O’Donoghue are the only survivors from the starting team in the Champions Cup match at Thomond Park last weekend.

Jake Flannery starts at outhalf for the first time in his fifth appearance for the province in the absence of Ben Healy with Jack Crowley on the bench. Calvin Nash has recovered from an ankle injury that has kept him sidelined since September. It’ll be interesting to see how Liam Coombes, normally a wing, goes at outside centre.

The 20-year-old former underage international and Trinity student Joe McCarthy will make his Leinster debut against Cardiff at the Arms Park (7.35pm). He will partner Devin Toner in the secondrow who is at the other end of the representative scale as he increases his Leinster record to 272 games.

Will Connors returns after injury and to accommodate his presence Scott Penny is named at number eight. Rory O’Loughlin is another to return from injury while the centre partnership of Ciarán Frawley and Jamie Osborne came through the youth rugby pathway in the province. Luke McGrath captains the side in an experienced halfback partnership with Ross Byrne, while the latter’s brother Harry is on the bench.

Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran; Alex Wootton, Tom Farrell, Sammy Arnold, Diarmuid Kilgallen; Cathal Forde, Kieran Marmion; Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Greg McGrath; Ultan Dillane, Leva Fifita; Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler (capt), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Buckley, Tietie Tuimauga, Oisin Dowling, Sean Masterson, Colm Reilly, Shayne Bolton, Oran McNulty.

Munster: Matt Gallagher; Calvin Nash, Liam Coombes, Dan Goggin, Shane Daly; Jake Flannery, Neil Cronin; Jeremy Loughman, Diarmuid Barron, Keynan Knox; Jean Kleyn, Fineen Wycherley; Jack O’Donoghue (capt), John Hodnett, Jack O’Sullivan.

Replacements: Scott Buckley, Josh Wycherley, Roman Salanoa, Thomas Ahern, Alex Kendellen, Paddy Patterson, Jack Crowley, Chris Farrell.

Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien; Adam Byrne, Jamie Osbourne, Ciarán Frawley, Rory O’Loughlin; Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath (capt); Ed Byrne, Sean Cronin, Michael Ala’alatoa; Devin Toner, Joe McCarthy; Rhys Ruddock, Will Connors, Scott Penny.

Replacements: James Tracy, Peter Dooley, Vakh Abdaladze, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Nick McCarthy, Harry Byrne, Tommy O’Brien.

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