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Connacht Academy stars included in lineup to face the Scarlets

Guinness PRO12 Editor

1 Mar 2012

Connacht Rugby have announced the team that will face the Scarlets this Friday (Parc y Scarlets 19.30)

There are a number of personnel changes to the starting team with Brett Wilkinson and Mike McCarthy unavailable due to their involvement with the National side.

This gives Peter Borlase his first taste of Connacht Rugby at tighthead prop while Ronan Loughney, earning his 100th cap for the province, moves back to loosehead prop.

There is a first cap for Academy backrower Dave Heffernan. The 6'1, 104kg former Ireland U20 has played in all of Connacht's 'A' games this season and has impressed with outstanding performances for Buccaneers RFC in the Ulster Bank All Ireland League. 20 year old Ballina born Heffernan joined the Connacht Academy this season having transferred his studies from UCD to NUIG and is known for his ferocious ball-carrying and workrate across the park.

Dave joins fellow year one Academy star Mick Kearney in the forwards. Mick has featured in nine of Connacht's matches so far and the versatile Irish Colleges secondrow has certainly made an impression this season with big performances including those against Leinster, the Ospreys and 3 appearances in the Heineken Cup.

Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry renew the centre partnership last seen in action in Connacht's Heineken Cup match against Gloucester while Miah Nikora replaces this injured Niall O'Connor at outhalf.

Speaking about the inclusion of three academy players (Heffernan, Kearney and Buckley) Academy Manager Nigel Carolan said:
"It's great to see the guys getting the reward for their hard work and dedication. Eric (Elwood) has always said that if players are good enough and patient enough they'll get their chances so it's great to see these opportunities open up for them."

Connacht v Scarlets (Par y Scarlets, Friday 27th February – KO 19.30)
15 Gavin Duffy (C)
14 Fetu'u Vainikolo
13 Eoin Griffin
12 Dave McSharry
11 Tiernan O'Halloran
10 Miah Nikora
09 Frank Murphy
01 Ronan Loughney
02 Adrian Flavin
03 Peter Borlase
04 Michael Swift
05 Mick Kearney
06 Dave Heffernan
07 Ray Ofisa
08 George Naoupu

16 Ethienne Reynecke
17 Denis Buckley
18 Stewart Maguire
19 John Muldoon
20 Eoghan Grace
21 Dave Moore
22 Matthew Jarvis
23 Kyle Tonetti