Connacht lose Aki until February - make four changes for trip to Ulster

Connacht lose Aki until February - make four changes for trip to Ulster

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made four personnel changes to his side ahead of tomorrow's clash with Ulster at Kingspan Stadium.

Bundee Aki will undergo surgery this week for an ongoing ankle injury and will return in mid-February. In the absence of recognised midfielders, last week's try scorer Danie Poolman will start at inside centre for the first time alongside Rory Parata.

With Conor Carey added to the long list of injured props, the versatile Tom McCartney has now been named on the bench to cover loosehead prop. Dave Heffernan with start the game in the number two shirt while Shane Delahunt is named on the bench as replacement hooker.

Quinn Roux is named in the second row.
Quinn Roux is named in the second row.

James Cannon comes in to the side to partner Quinn Roux in the second row while Galway man Sean O'Brien is promoted from the bench to join the back row with Nepia Fox-Matamua and captain John Muldoon.

There remains a 6-2 split on the bench with just nine backs available to Lam and his coaching team. Academy back Ciaran Gaffney is this week named in his first match day squad.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat:

"This week has probably been the most challenging I've had at Connacht Rugby with all the injuries, sickness and the group only coming together yesterday,” Lam said. “Losing both Bundee (Aki) and Conor (Carey) to long term injuries is a big blow especially with our injury crisis at prop and midfield. With 21 injuries in our squad it's an opportunity for the next player still standing to come in and nail his role in our structures and systems.

"With the named squad not even training once together this week, there has been a huge emphasis once again on the classroom learning and mental preparation. I was really proud of the boys with the work they put in last week and the character they showed in adversity to grind out a big win.

“We'll be looking for the same again this Friday night, albeit in a much tougher environment at a sold out Kingspan Stadium and against a quality side like Ulster.”

Connacht team;15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Rory Parata, 12 Danie Poolman, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion; 1 Denis Buckley 2 Dave Heffernan, 3 Finlay Bealham, 4 Quinn Roux, 5 James Cannon, 6 Sean O'Brien, 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 8 John Muldoon -capt.

Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Tom McCartney, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Ciaran Gaffney, 23 Naulia Dawai.

More in this Section

Donegal chairman: 'The fundraising and sponsorship nearly takes up your whole year'Donegal chairman: 'The fundraising and sponsorship nearly takes up your whole year'

Mayo GAA secretary thanks Tim O'Leary in annual reportMayo GAA secretary thanks Tim O'Leary in annual report

Barrister makes doping allegations against Shane Sutton over Tour of IrelandBarrister makes doping allegations against Shane Sutton over Tour of Ireland

Injured Stones ruled out of Dinamo Zagreb clashInjured Stones ruled out of Dinamo Zagreb clash


Lifestyle

They’re the best air purifiers around so we should grow more houseplants all year round, says Peter Dowdall.Not just for December: The reason why she should grow more houseplants all year round

Let's face it — for the first few years of a child’s life you can dress them exactly how you want to.Alison Curtis: Clothes shopping with your young girl can be a tricky thing to do

Lizzo, Demi Lovato and Ashley Graham are among those prompting us to practise a little more self-love.5 times celebrities reminded us to be body positive in 2019

Wondering about wine for the big day? Leslie Williams has all the options, for every taste and budget.Something from the bar: The perfect drink selections this Christmas

More From The Irish Examiner