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Rugby

13th Nov 2023

Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen ruled out of Connacht trip to South Africa

Patrick McCarry

Connacht

Just when Connacht fans start thinking it is swinging their way…

Connacht posted to Instagram last Monday about ‘the mood when you are sitting top of the table’. One week and one defeat on, they are down to fifth. The United Rugby Championship comes at you fast.

Pete Wilkins’ side won their opening three games in the URC and have, thus far in 2023, won eight games in a row at The Sportsground. The westerners travelled to Edinburgh at the weekend hoping to stay on a roll before their two-game trip to South Africa.

They ended up with just a losing bonus point but it could have been more had it not been for a late drop goal coolly slotted over by former Munster outhalf, Ben Healy.

Connacht without two Ireland stars

On Monday, Connacht named a 29-man travelling squad to South Africa for the United Rugby Championship fixtures against the Sharks and Bulls. The squad fly out to Durban and will be based there for the majority of their two weeks in the country.

The opening game of their mini tour is against the Sharks, this Saturday, at 3pm Irish time. They then fly to Pretoria ahead of their clash with the Bulls at the same time on Saturday, November 25. Both games will be broadcast live on RTÉ.

The big blow for Connacht is they will not have either Bundee Aki or Mack Hansen to call upon for the two matches. The Ireland duo are among eight senior players that will miss the trip south. The others are Jack Aungier, Shayne Bolton, Santiago Cordero, Shane Jennings, Oisin McCormack and Gavin Thornbury.

Hansen, Aki and Finlay Bealham only returned to full training last week. Bealham did not have as many World Cup minutes as his provincial teammates so is travelling south, while Aki and Hansen will be targeting the home game against Leinster on December 2 as their comeback.

CONNACHT TRAVELLING SQUAD

Forwards (17)

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 (12)

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

JAMES DOWNEY & PAT MCCARRY ON HOUSE OF RUGBY

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