Connacht announce XV to take on Cardiff Blues in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12 league

Guinness PRO12 Editor

31 Aug 2012


Connacht Rugby have announced the starting XV that will take on the Cardiff Blues in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12 tomorrow at the Sportsground.

Gavin Duffy will lead his side out, having been announced as captain for a second year running. The 6'2 former Mayo Minor footballer has 10 Irish caps and was called up to the Ireland squad during the summer tour to New Zealand. Duffy is supported on the wings by last season regulars Fetu'u Vainikolo and Tiernan O'Halloran while the dynamic centre partnership of Mata Fifita and Eoin Griffin complete the backline.

Kieran Marmion will gain his first cap for Connacht at scrum half. Kieran started in the preseason friendly against Harlequins and also played a pivotal role for Ireland at the IRB Junior World Championship, starting four of their five games en route to a highest ever finish of fifth.

Another regular from last season is out half Miah Nikora who got a good run out in both pre-season friendlies in August.

Connacht have plenty of experience amongst the starting forwards. John Muldoon, Mike McCarthy, and Johnny O'Connor have almost 450 caps between them while Michael Swift holds the record with this his 220th cap for the Province. Ronan Loughney, with 105 caps, provides plenty more experience with George Naoupu , Denis Buckley and Ethienne Reynecke completing the firepower of the forwards.

In the past two seasons both Connacht and Cardiff Blues have begun with an opening weekend victory and tomorrow both sides will endeavour to hold on to that record.

It's been a summer of change for Cardiff Blues with a number of senior players such as Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush and Deiniol Jones retiring from the game and a new exciting crop of youngsters coming through.

Director of Rugby, Eric Elwood, is looking forward to kicking off with the new season. "All the pre-season training has led to this point and we can't wait to get going."

KO is at 5pm at the Sportsground.

Connacht XV

15. Gavin Duffy (Captain)
14. Tiernan O'Halloran
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Mata Fifita
11. Fetu'u Vainikolo
10. Miah Nikora
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Ethienne Reynecke
3. Ronan Loughney
4. Michael Swift
5. Mike McCarthy
6. John Muldoon
7. Johnny O'Connor
8. George Naoupu

Replacements (from):
16. Adrian Flavin
17. Rodney Ah You
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Dave Gannon
20. Willie Faloon
21. David Moore
22. Matthew Jarvis
23. Robbie Henshaw