Connacht head coach Pat Lam has handed 21 year-old Buccaneers out-half Jack Carty his first start for tomorrow night’s derby clash with PRO12 champions Leinster.
Carty is one of three changes in an all-Irish qualified back-line with an average age of 22. The Athlone-native, who is in his third year of the Connacht Academy, has captained the Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup this season and has featured from the bench in PRO12 games against Benetton Treviso and Munster. Carty’s first of three senior caps came against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun in September last year. Carty, of course, joins fellow Athlone and Buccaneers club-man Robbie Henshaw in the Connacht side.
Tomorrow night sees scrum-half and this season’s top try scorer, Kieran Marmion, play his 44th consecutive game since his debut in 2012. Darragh Leader has also been brought up from the Academy and starts at full-back tomorrow night in place of the injured Gavin Duffy. The 20 year-old Galway man has played in three games this season, starting two on the wing at home against Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets. The forward pack remains unchanged from last week with Andrew Browne earning his 100th cap.
There are two changes to the replacements bench with veteran second row Michael Swift returning from injury. Scrum half Paul O’Donohoe is in line to earn his 50th Connacht cap should he be called upon against his former club.
Speaking about the team selection and the upcoming game, Pat Lam said: “With our second and third choice out-half out injured, we have decided to bring in young Jack Carty to start. Jack has been involved with us in training all year and has had some good performances with the Eagles. It’s a great boost to his development as a young Irish qualified 10 to play against such quality opposition and I know he is very much looking forward to the test. We have an extremely young back-line going up against the best team in Europe and the league champions. But we have a belief in our young squad and if every player does their job and commits to the game plan we’ve put in place, then we have every chance of getting the desired result.”
Connacht Team to play v Leinster
15. Darragh Leader, 14. Fionn Carr, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Eoin Griffin, 11. Matt Healy, 10. Jack Carty, 9. Kieran Marmion. 1. Brett Wilkinson, 2. Jason Harris-Wright, 3. Nathan White, 4. Mick Kearney, 5. Craig Clarke (captain), 6. Andrew Browne, 7. John Muldoon, 8. Eoin McKeon.
16. Dave Heffernan, 17. Denis Buckley, 18. Rodney Ah You, 19. Michael Swift, 20. George Naoupu, 21. Paul O’Donohoe, 22. Dan Parks, 23. Tiernan O’Halloran.