Connacht down a few key men as Leinster go all guns blazing
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Connacht shouldn't really have much of a chance here.
Players are thin on the ground out west at this stage, with no fewer than 17 of Andy Friend's squad ruled out of Saturday's PRO 14 clash against Leinster, key men Jack Carty and Bundee Aki among them.
Even their 'fit' players will be up against it, with this their 11th game in as many weekends.
The road to the RDS is ahead of them and you would expect, a Leinster win but it's rarely that simple with Connacht, and that's why they'll have a fighting chance heading up to the capital.
It always takes a brave caller to write off Connacht.
They've had a topsy turvy Christmas, running Munster close before shipping a shellacking at the hands of Ulster on St Stephen's day, dropping to fourth in the PRO 14 table.
They'll be eager to get back to winning ways with an underdog triumph to start 2020 off in the right way and Andy Friend has called on the best squad available to him to get a priceless win for Connacht.
The impressive Conor Fitzgerald continues at fly half while 20-year-old Roscommon man Niall Murray makes his debut in the second row.
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT | Here is your matchday squad to face Leinster in the RDS tomorrow.
Its a first start for 20 year old Roscommon man Niall Murray and Caolin Blade continues as captain
Read all about it👇https://t.co/4yMYibWgc3#GrassrootstoGreenShirts pic.twitter.com/qSmNPgy6SG
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) January 3, 2020
"They're going to be lambs to the slaughter this weekend," warned Andrew Trimble on Baz and Andrew's House of Rugby.
"I just think they went strong at home to Munster, they were poor. And as good as Ulster were at the weekend, Connacht were poor," continued Trimble.
In contrast, Leinster are flying high at the top of the PRO 14, on the back of impressive wins over Ulster and Munster over Christmas. They'll be hoping to make it a clean sweep of inter-pros here and manager Leo Cullen has named a relatively strong side to get the job done.
Will Connors and Max Deegan both start, and they'll be vying to impress ahead of the Six Nations.
"Will Connors is going brilliantly. I still think van Der Flier is going to come back in have a blinder - one of the three of them will get a go - (for the six nations) Max Deegan, Caelan Doris or Will Connors..."
15. Jordan Larmour
14. Fergus McFadden
13. Garry Ringrose
12. Joe Tomane
11. Dave Kearney
10. Ciarán Frawley
9. Luke McGrath
1. Peter Dooley
2. Seán Cronin
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Ross Molony
5. James Ryan
6. Rhys Ruddock (C)
7. Will Connors
8. Max Deegan
16. Bryan Byrne
17. Ed Byrne
18. Roman Salanoa
19. Ryan Baird
20. Caelan Doris
21. Jamison Gibson-Park
22. Harry Byrne
23. Cian Kelleher
Leinster v Connacht, 5.30, Saturday, the RDS.