Andy Friend

  • Connacht coach Andy Friend has made two changes for tomorrow's crucial Guinness Pro14 clash with Cardiff at the Sportsground.

    Ireland international Bundee Aki returns to replace Peter Robb in the centre while Paul Boyle comes in for Eoin McKeon at openside flanker.

    Victory for the western province would secure their place in the Heineken Champions Cup next season and Boyle says they're getting used to high pressure matches.

  • Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend has made a total of ten changes to the side that won away to Perpignan in the European Challenge Cup last weekend, as Connacht take on Leinster in the RDS on Saturday (kick-off 7:45pm).

     Included in the starting side are internationals Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane as Bundee Aki is named among the replacements.

     Bealham comes back into a front row that sees Denis Buckley returning at loosehead and Tom McCartney retained at hooker. In the second row Dillane will line up alongside Gavin Thornbury with James Cannon named among the replacements.

     Captain Jarrad Butler comes into the side alongside Colby Fainga'a and Paul Boyle at number 8.

     Jack Carty and Caolin Blade renew their half-back partnership, while the back three sees Darragh Leader come in for Matt Healy who picked up a knock in training during the week, with Cian Kelleher named on the opposite wing with Tiernan O'Halloran at full back. The midfield pairing of Tom Farrell and Kyle Godwin completes the side.

     

     (15-9) Tiernan O'Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Colby Fainga'a, Paul Boyle.

    Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Bundee Aki.

  • New Connacht coach Andy Friend has selected back-row Jarrad Butler as his captain for the coming season.

    Butler made 19 appearances for the Westerners in his debut season at the Sportsground.

    The 27-year-old will qualify to play for Ireland in 2020.