- Papali’i and Fifita brought into Connacht’s match day 23.
- Ruan Combrinck will earn his first start for the Vodacom Bulls after making his debut off the bench during the domestic Carling Currie Cup. Lizo Gqoboka, Joe van Zyl and Stravino Jacobs return to the starting lineup.
Connacht v Vodacom Bulls
The Sportsground, Galway – KO 19.35 IRE & UK / 20.35 ITA & SA
Referee: Ben Blain (SRU, 11th league game)
AR 1: Paul Haycock (IRFU), AR 2: Andrew Cole (IRFU),
TMO: Andrew McMenemy (IRFU)
Live on: TG4, SuperSport & Premier Sports
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane, Cian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler (CAPT), Abraham Papali’i.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Jack Aungier, Leva Fifita, Conor Oliver, Caolin Blade, Paul Boyle, Sammy Arnold.
Vodacom Bulls: Ruan Combrinck, Cornal Hendricks, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Stravino Jacobs, Johan Goosen, Zak Burger; Lizo Gqoboka, Joe van Zyl, Jacques van Rooyen, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Arno Botha, Elrigh Louw.
Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Mornay Smith, Janko Swanepoel, Jacques du Plessis, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Stedman Gans.
Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said: “Last week’s result was disappointing but we as a coaching group saw enough to firmly believe we’re on the right track. If we can be more clinical at the crucial times I know we’ll be tough to beat whoever we face, so we hope to see more of that tomorrow against a very formidable Bulls outfit.
Bringing the likes of Papali’i and Fifita into our 23 gives us a lot of physicality, but we’ll need the throw the ball around a lot as well. With the Connacht supporters back behind us in full voice I know we can give them something to cheer about.”
Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said: “We have another tough encounter ahead of us. To face two top Irish sides back-to-back is no easy challenge. Connacht is a strong, well-coached side; and they will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Cardiff in the opening round. We have also put the defeat to Leinster behind us, and we look forward to testing ourselves, again this week, against another quality outfit in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.”
The Sportsground, Galway – KO 19.35