Connacht are without Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane against Edinburgh, we have the Craggy podcast preview and the latest team news. Kick Off 7:35pm Friday.
On a better note Quin Roux returns to the side along with Eoin McKeon who has been unavailable through injury since November. McKeon joins a back row that includes openside Jarrad Butler and Sean O’Brien at number 8.
Out-half Jack Carty and scrum half Caolin Blade continue their partnership which has been a regular feature over the past few weeks in Marmion’s absence.
Winger Niyi Adeolokun joins a back three that includes fullback Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy. Healy became Connacht’s record try scorer after scoring twice against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
At the pre game Press Conference, Connacht backs coach Nigel Carolan told reporters that Edinburgh will bring a big challenge on Friday night. “They made life really difficult for Munster last Friday night. They turned them over several times at the breakdown and that’s uncharacteristic for Munster”, said Carolan.
“You can see that there’s a real bite to them, there’s a real high level of fitness and physicality. They’re a tough team to play against. They very direct and confrontational and they’re a tough team to break down. That’s where our biggest focus has been this week, particularly around the breakdown”, he added.
Scotland international Darryl Marfo will make his long-awaited return from injury for Edinburgh, The inclusion of the loose-head is one of five changes made to the side that defeated Munster at BT Murrayfield last weekend as Edinburgh search for their sixth consecutive league victory.
Scotland star Blair Kinghorn returns to the starting XV following his scoring exploits in the NatWest 6 Nations. The fullback is joined in the back-three by Dougie Fife and Duhan van der Merwe – with the latter grabbing a brace in last weekend’s win.
An unchanged midfield sees Chris Dean and Mark Bennett continue their burgeoning partnership, whilst at half-back, South African stand-off Jaco van der Walt is joined by Nathan Fowles.
Hooker Neil Cochrane packs down in a revamped front row alongside Scotland internationalists Marfo and Simon Berghan, while Grant Gilchrist and Ben Toolis are named at lock.
The industrious trio of Magnus Bradbury, John Hardie and Bill Mata are all named in an unchanged back-row.
Elsewhere, Scotland international Cornell du Preez is named amongst the replacements and if involved the six-times Scotland capped number eight will make his 100th appearance for the club.
On his team selection, Head Coach Richard Cockerill, said: “We’re taking steps in the right direction. We’re working as hard as we can.
“Last week against Munster, I just wanted the boys to go out there and play as well as they could. The effort was just unbelievable, it’s where we want to be.
“We know how tough an opponent Connacht are – especially at home, where conditions aren’t always brilliant. But, we’re going there full of confidence that we can get a positive result.”
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (Capt), Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Quinn Roux, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Sean O’Brien.
Replacements (16-23): Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.
15. Blair Kinghorn (59),14. Dougie Fife (101), 13. Mark Bennett (6), 12. Chris Dean (61), 11. Duhan van der , erwe (12), 10. Jaco van der Walt (12), 9. Nathan Fowles (54).1. Darryl Marfo (9), 2. Neil Cochrane (70)
3. Simon Berghan (43), 4. Ben Toolis (83), 5. Grant Gilchrist (114) CAPTAIN, 6. Magnus Bradbury (47)
7. John Hardie (28), 8. Bill Mata (32)
Replacements: 16. Cameron Fenton (10); 17. Jordan Lay (6); 18. WP Nel (111); 19. Lewis Carmichael (27); 20. Cornell du Preez (99); 21 Sean Kennedy (58); 22. Duncan Weir (29); 23. Phil Burleigh (69)