Connacht Rugby Faces Crucial Test Against Munster in URC Clash

Connacht Rugby coach Pete Wilkins prepares for a crucial match against Munster in Limerick, with a top-eight spot in the BKT United Rugby Championship on the line. Connacht makes three injury-enforced changes to the starting lineup, with Captain Jack Carty returning from a hamstring injury.

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Connacht Rugby Faces Crucial Test Against Munster in URC Clash

Connacht Rugby Faces Crucial Test Against Munster in URC Clash

Connacht Rugby coach Pete Wilkins is gearing up for a pivotal match against Munster in Limerick on Saturday, with a spot in thetop eightof the BKT United Rugby Championship on the line. Connacht currently sits sixth in the table with 44 points, level with Ulster and Benetton below them and just one point behind the Stormers in fifth.

With three games remaining before the knockout stages, Wilkins knows Connacht's destiny is in their own hands. "Firstly we're incredibly excited about tomorrow's game," Wilkins said. "These interpros, especially ones of such importance, are the kind of days you train for and look forward to all year."

Connacht heads into the clash at Thomond Park with momentum, having won their last two matches against Zebre and the Dragons. However, they have made three injury-enforced changes to the starting lineup. Captain Jack Carty returns from a hamstring injury to lead from out-half, while Denis Buckley and Cian Prendergast are sidelined with thumb and shoulder injuries respectively. JJ Hanrahan, who suffered an ACL injury, will undergo surgery later this month.

Despite the personnel challenges, Wilkins expressed confidence in the selected squad. "We've picked a (matchday) 23 that we know can deliver a physical and committed performance from the first minute, because that's what will be needed," he emphasized. While acknowledging Munster's quality, Wilkins believes his team can give themselves every opportunity if they play to their potential.

Connacht's recent record against Munster provides reason for optimism, with four wins in their last six meetings, including a New Year's Day victory at Dexcom Stadium. However, they have struggled to secure away wins against fellow Irish provinces, with just one such victory since May 2021 - last season's quarter-final triumph at Ulster. Connacht's sole win in Limerick since 2015 came in a behind-closed-doors fixture during the Rainbow Cup in May 2021.

The starting lineup sees the return of Tiernan O'Halloran, Shane Jennings, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, and Byron Ralston from an ankle injury. In the pack, Oisín Dowling partners with Joe Joyce in the second row, while the back row consists of Shamus Hurley-Langton, Conor Oliver, and Paul Boyle. The replacements bench includes Dylan Tierney-Martin, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Niall Murray, Sean Jansen, Caolin Blade, Cathal Forde, and Jarrad Butler.

With a place in the URC playoffs and Champions Cup qualification on the line, Connacht will need to deliver atop-class performanceagainst a formidable Munster side. The stage is set for a thrilling interprovincial derby at Thomond Park, as Wilkins' men look to secure a crucial victory and keep their top-eight aspirations alive.