Preview: Connacht v Toulouse

Date published: October 14 2016

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2016/2017 EPCR European Rugby Champions Cup & European Rugby Challenge Cup Launch, Paris, France 3/10/2016
Thierry Dusautoir of Toulouse
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Pat Lam has made just one change to the Connacht team, that registered a bonus point win over Ulster, to face Toulouse at the Sportsground in round one of the European Champions Cup.

Second row Quinn Roux returns for his third start this season while his Ireland teammate Ultan Dillane moves to the bench. Also among the replacements is Galway man Sean O’Brien who makes a welcome return from injury to be included in his first match day squad of the season.

Kieran Marmion has recovered from injury to take his place among the replacement backs.

“Saturday is a big occasion for Connacht with Champions Cup returning to the Sportsground,” Lam said.

“While we’re aware of the excitement surrounding the fixture, our focus has been on ensuring our week’s preparation has followed our normal routine of getting better every day. With Toulouse having a squad full of quality internationals, it’s vital we bring our team structures and systems to give us a chance of winning.

“It is important to start well in Europe and the fact that we are at home gives us a massive boost. Hopefully as many of our supporters as possible from Sligo, Leitrim, Roscommon, Mayo and Galway can get to the game to create that special Connacht atmosphere. I know it will mean a lot to the boys and it will play a big part in getting us over the line.”

Toulouse have made six changes to their starting line-up to the one who lost to Clermont in the Top 14 last weekend.

Full-back Maxime Médard, wingers Yoann Huget and Paul Perez, scrum-half Sébastien Bézy, flanker Piula Faasalele and lock Richie Gray all come back into the starting XV to face Connacht.

Form: The clubs have met four times in the pool stage of the top flight in 2011/12 and 2013/14, Toulouse winning three and Connacht one. Toulouse’s three victories all came by 20-plus points, while Connacht’s win against the four-time champions in 2013 was by a two-point margin. This is Connacht’s first appearance in the Champions Cup since 2013/14 when they won three of their six games. Toulouse have lost their last four away games in the competition, however they’ve never lost five on the bounce away from home. Toulouse averaged 20.3 offloads per game last season, over three more per game than any other side.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Conor Carey, 2 David Heffernan, 1 Finlay Bealham
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Sean O’Brien, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Shane O’Leary, 23 Stacey Ili

Toulouse: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Florian Fritz, 12 Yann David, 11 Paul Perez, 10 Jean-Marc Doussain, 9 Sébastien Bézy, 8 Carl Axtens, 7 Piula Faasalele,  6 Francois Cros, 5 Joe Tekori, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Census Johnston, 2 Christopher Tolofua, 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Julien Marchand, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Edwin Maka, 20 Gregory Lamboley, 21 Talalelei Gray, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Gael Fickou

Date: Saturday, October 15
Venue: Galway Sportsground
Kick-off: 17:35 local (16:35 GMT)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew O’Grady (England), Jonathan Healy (England)
TMO: Stuart Terheege (England)

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