It’s the second round of the Rainbow Cup and the Connacht rugby team plays Leinster, Kick-off time 7:35 pm on Saturday, Live rugby on TG4.
Master of none podcast chat to two up-and-coming Connacht Rugby stars Cathal Forde and Niall Murray.
Captain Jarrad Butler will make his first appearance in nearly 2 months following suspension and injury – he comes straight into the starting XV. Denis Buckley comes into the front row for his 198th appearance, while Niall Murray starts in the second row. Conor Fitzgerald starts at no.10 following an impressive cameo off the bench against Ulster, while the man who scored the match-winning try in that game, Peter Sullivan, is also handed a starting berth on the wing.
There’s also a 150th appearance for Connacht’s record try scorer Matt Healy who is named on the opposite wing.
Buckley lines up alongside Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, while Gavin Thornbury completes the tight five. Butler starts at number 8 alongside flankers Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver.
Caolin Blade partners Conor Fitzgerald, while Tom Daly and Sean O’Brien play together at centre for the 5th straight game. With Healy and Sullivan on the wings, John Porch completes the side from full-back.
There’s also a welcome return among the replacements for Sammy Arnold, who hasn’t featured for four months since undergoing chest surgery.
There are a number of changes from the 23 that lined out against La Rochelle last weekend, while three of Leinster Rugby’s 2021 British and Irish Lions contingent have also been included in the squad to face Connacht.
Hugo Keenan again starts at full back for Cullen, but Cian Kelleher and Dave Kearney come in on the wings.
Ciarán Frawley and Garry Ringrose are selected in the centre, with Luke McGrath once more captaining the side and again partnered by Ross Byrne.
In the pack there are seven changes in total from last week.
In the front row, Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Andrew Porter are selected, with Ross Molony and Scott Fardy behind them in the second row.
“We had a great win last time out in Belfast, but as always this year it’s now about backing that up and getting some consistency going. Leinster will travel to The Sportsground wanting to avoid three defeats so that’s a challenge in itself, but we’re also confident we can put in a performance capable of getting a win.
We’ve got a few players returning from injury which is always good, and Matt Healy hits a significant milestone as well so we’re very pleased with the team we’re able to select.”
“Probably not too dissimilar to what we showed at the RDS in January,” the Australian said when asked what it would take for his team to win in Saturday’s interprovincial.
“We talked about it all week this week. We were the first Connacht team to win up at the RDS(since 2002), that doesn’t happen very often up in Dublin.
“That’s a nice feather to have in the cap, but, having done that, you now know what’s coming. You now know you’ve got a Leinster who we knocked off up there. They’ve just lost their last two and they are a very proud club and they’re coming down here to make sure that their losing streak is snapped.
“We know exactly what’s coming and that’s 23 men in blue — which 23, we don’t know yet — and we know we have to be right up for that fight in order to try and steal another win. That’s our intention.
“It won’t be too different to what you saw in the RDS in December. We brought great intent and line speed and I thought our physicality was good and I thought our game smarts and our game management was very good. Our intention is to try and replicate that and to try and get another win.