Ulster and Connacht Name Their Teams As PRO14 Returns

Back to business.

Ulster and Connacht are back in PRO14 action this weekend. The northern province welcome the Southern Kings to Belfast in a historic clash, while Connacht are also at home, with Ospreys the visitors.

Experienced lock Andrew Browne comes back into Kieran Keane’s Connacht line up for the Guinness PRO14 clash with in Ospreys in the Sportsground on Friday.

Also back from injury, James Cannon and Craig Ronaldson come back in to the second row and out half respectively.

With Bundee Aki away on international duty, Tom Farrell and Eoin Griffin form the centre pairing. Likewise, with Kieran Marmion’s absence, Caolin Blade starts at scrum half. The squad is boosted by Quinn Roux’s return from Irish camp as he takes his place on the bench.

Having recently announced that he will retire at the end of this season, John Muldoon will captain the side from his number 8 position. He will be joined in the back row by Eoghan Masterson at blindside and openside Naulia Dawai.

Connacht team to play Ospreys

(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Craig Ronaldson, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Andrew Browne, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Naulia Dawai, John Muldoon (Capt).

Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Quinn Roux, James Connolly, James Mitchell, Jack Carty, Pita Ahki.

The Ulster team has also been announced for the historic visit of Southern Kings to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night.

The Guinness PRO14 tie is the first-ever meeting between the two sides in Belfast, following the South Africans’ move into the Championship last summer.

Alan O’Connor will captain the side for the first time, in what is Head Coach Jono Gibbes’ opening game in charge. Flyhalf Johnny McPhillips, who has made four appearances as a replacement, will make his first senior start.

Also in the backline, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy return from injury lay-offs to earn starting berths at outside centre and right wing respectively.

Hooker Rob Herring has been released from the Ireland national camp and will provide cover on the bench, while Ireland U20 duo Matthew Dalton and Jonny Stewart are also included among the replacements.

Kyle McCall, Rodney Ah You and Chris Henry are the other forwards included in the match day squad, with Darren Cave and Louis Ludik providing further backline options.

Ulster team to play Southern Kings

(15-9): C Piutau; C Gilroy, L Marshall, S McCloskey, R Lyttle; J McPhillips, J Cooney;
(1-8): A Warwick, J Andrew, W Herbst, A O’Connor (captain), K Treadwell, M Rea, S Reidy, N Timoney;

Replacements (16-23): R Herring, K McCall, R Ah You, M Dalton, C Henry, J Stewart, D Cave, L Ludik.