Ireland backline duo to miss South Africa tour

Adam Kyriacou
Connacht centre Bundee Aki passing to Mack Hansen.

Connacht centre Bundee Aki passing to Mack Hansen.

Connacht will be without Ireland stars Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen for their upcoming visit to South Africa, where they will take on the Sharks and Bulls.

The duo, who were key members of Ireland’s team at the World Cup, remain absent from the United Rugby Championship side’s squad in the early season.

Aki and Hansen are joined by Jack Aungier, Shayne Bolton, Santiago Cordero, Shane Jennings, Oisin McCormack and Gavin Thornbury in being unavailable.

However, Pete Wilkins’ outfit are boosted by the return of Ireland tighthead prop Finlay Bealham, who didn’t play as many World Cup minutes as his club-mates.

Fifth in table

Connacht currently sit in fifth position on a hotly-contested table after winning three out of four games, coming unstuck against Edinburgh over the weekend.

On Monday, the Irish side named a 29-man travelling squad for the trip to South Africa for the United Rugby Championship clashes with the Sharks and Bulls.

They fly to Durban, where they will be based for the majority of the tour, with their opening match against the Sharks on Saturday at 17:00 local (15:00 GMT).

Connacht then head to Pretoria ahead of their clash with the Bulls at the same time on Saturday, November 25, in what is a crucial two weeks for the squad.

The Bulls have started their campaign in impressive fashion as they sit atop the standings due to points difference, level on points with Leinster and Glasgow.

Ulster, Connacht and Benetton are one point behind them on 14 with Munster seventh (13), Edinburgh eighth (12), Stormers ninth (11) and Ospreys 10th (10).

Connacht squad

Forwards: Finlay Bealham, Denis Buckley, Peter Dooley, Oisín Dowling, Dave Heffernan, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Sam Illo, Sean Jansen, Joe Joyce, Tadgh McElroy, Darragh Murray, Niall Murray, Conor Oliver, Sean O’Brien, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cian Prendergast, Dylan Tierney-Martin

Backs: Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Tom Farrell, Cathal Forde, JJ Hanrahan, David Hawkshaw, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Byron Ralston, Colm Reilly, Andrew Smith

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