Return of Dillane and Aki gives boost to Connacht for Champions Cup opening

Galway Daily rugby Ultan Dillane departing Connacht after 10 years
Photo credit: Connacht Rugby/INPHO

Ultan Dillane has returned to the Connacht starting team to face Montpellier in the opening round of the Heineken Champions Cup in the Sportsground today.

The first match of the Champions Cup also sees Irish international star Bundee Aki making his first start since returning from the World Cup after coming off the bench .

This is no doubt a welcome boost to Connacht’s confidence as they head into the Champions Cup this afternoon after a two year absence.

Today’s match against Montpellier is kicking off at the Sportsground at 1pm.

The Irish sides have had a strong start to the pool stage so far, with Leinster beating Benetton 33 – 19 and Munster overcoming the Ospreys 32 – 13 on Saturday.

Commenting ahead of the game, Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend said that getting Dillane and Matt Healy back from injury, along with the return of Aki to the starting line, is a huge boost.

“They bring a huge amount of experience at this level and that will be invaluable to us,” Andy Friend said.

Getting off to a strong start is hugely important heading into the Cup he added, especially when playing at home.

That said everyone is looking forward to the game this afternoon and the Connacht side is expecting strong support from the home crowd.

“We have had incredible support so far this season in the Sportsground and we are expecting a huge occasion again on Sunday afternoon.”

“Everyone associated with Connacht Rugby is excited about our return to the Champions Cup and our focus now is on delivering a win against Montpellier.


Connacht Matchday Squad V Montpellier (SUN 17 NOV, 1PM)

(15-9): Darragh Leader, Niyi Adeolokun, Kyle Godwin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade (1-8): Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Cillian Gallagher, Ultan Dillane, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (C), Paul Boyle.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Eoghan Masterson, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Tom Daly, John Porch


image credit: inpho/Connacht Rugby