Belfast Telegraph

Friend makes a bold move by switching Carty to full-back role


Andy Friend
Andy Friend
David Kelly

By David Kelly

David Dunworth was a grizzled Aussie prop who brooked little argument once he left the sheds.

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"Sent off, carried off, but never backed off," he once said. His compatriot, Connacht coach Andy Friend, would appreciate the sentiment.

His side face a high noon appointment with their future in European competition; their determination not to take a backward step perhaps revealed by an audacious selection gambit.

A complicated sequence of injuries has perhaps partly played a hand. And yet deciding to switch the currently fitful Jack Carty to the less pressurised full-back slot, thus allowing his in-form erstwhile deputy Conor Fitzgerald to remain at No.10, is a bold move befitting the nature of today's task.

Gloucester's removal of enigmatic pivot Danny Cipriani to a bench brimful of last-quarter menace hints at tentative ambiguity on the visitors' part.

Neither of these sides are in a realistic position, nor perhaps good enough, to challenge for a last-eight slot. And while Gloucester's selection is one with domestic matters in mind, Friend won't succumb wondering; if last week's game was slightly madcap, this could top it.

The locals know that without Carty's intercept and the self-imposed pressure forcing Kyle Godwin's yellow, events could have been overturned in Kingsholm. At times, the Irish side made their opponents look better.

Gloucester know as much, too; predictably, both sides moaned about their own breakdown.

Connacht fans won't have happy memories of referee Romain Poite following their Champions Cup play-off defeat four seasons ago. The opposition? Gloucester.

CONNACHT: J Carty; N Adeolokun, K Godwin, B Aki, J Porch; C Fitzgerald, C Blade; P McCabe, D Heffernan, D Robertson McCoy; U Dillane, J Maksymiw; E McKeon, J Butler (capt), P Boyle. Reps: S Delahunt, D Buckley, F Bealham, N Murray, E Masterson, S Kerins, T Daly, R Copeland.

GLOUCESTER: M Banahan; L Rees-Zammit, B Twelvetrees, M Atkinson, O Thorley; L Evans, C Braley; J Hohneck, T Gleave, F Balmain; A Craig, G Grobler; F Clarke, L Ludlow capt, R Ackermann. Reps: F Marais, A Seville, J Ford-Robinson, F Mostert, B Morgan, J Simpson, D Cipriani, C Harris.

Referee: R Poite (France).

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