Frank Murphy at scrum half for Connacht

Connacht Rugby have announced the starting XV that will face Munster this Friday in Thomond Park. Eric Elwood’s men will look to bounce back from their narrow defeat at the hands of Ulster in Ravenhill 2 weeks ago.

In one of their most successful seasons to date, Connacht have won 7 matches, drawn 1 and earned 6 losing bonus points to sit in 9th position with only the Inter-Provincial derby this weekend left.

The side has a blend of youth and experience with centurion’s captain Johnny O’Connor, Brett Wilkinson, John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy and Mike McCarthy complimenting dynamic Academy Graduates such as Dave Nolan, Eoin Griffin and Tiernan O’Halloran.

Frank Murphy starts at scrumhalf, the former Leicester no 9 has been capped by Connacht 70 times since joining in 2008 and has scored 2 trys this season. He’s joined at outhalf by the league’s second highest points scorer Ian Keatley. Keatleys’ 2 trys, 20 conversions, 55 penalties and 1 drop goal leave him just 15 points behind the Ospreys Dan Biggar in the accumulator chart.

Miah Nikora and Eoin Griffin make up the centre partnership. Griffin received the man-of-the-match award following his display in Connacht’s famous victory over Samoa at The Sportsground earlier this season while the versatile Nikora scored the winning drop goal that put Connacht through to the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals last season.

Fionn Carr, Brian Tuohy and Gavin Duffy, with 14 trys between them this season, make up the backline. Connacht’s experienced front row of Wilkinson, Cronin and Hagan have all represented Ireland for the Senior XV or Wolfhounds and are backed up by one of the league’s most dynamic 2nd row partnerships.

6’4” Ireland Wolfhound Mike McCarthy and 6’6” Junior All Black Bernie Upton will power the engine of the scrum and provide plenty of options at lineout time while the athleticism of Andrew Browne, the strength of John Muldoon and the ferocious tackling and ball carrying of captain Johnny O’Connor complete the loose forwards.

Connacht starting XV:
1 Brett Wilkinson
2 Sean Cronin
3 Jamie Hagan
4 Mike McCarthy
5 Bernie Upton
6 Andrew Browne
7 Johnny O’Connor (C)
8 John Muldoon
9 Frank Murphy
10 Ian Keatley
11 Fionn Carr
12 Miah Nikora
13 Eoin Griffin
14 Brian Tuohy
15 Gavin Duffy

16 Adrian Flavin
17 Ronan Loughney
18 Dylan Rogers
19 Dave Nolan
20 Mike McComish
21 Cillian Willis
22 Troy Nathan
22 Tiernan O’Halloran