Dermot Murphy joins the panel as cover at hooker, Aidan Wynne covers the back-line and Adam Kennedy adds an extra option at scrumhalf.
Speaking at this week's press conference, Connacht head coach Eric Elwood said he was happy with the pre-season training regime which included trips to the Aran Islands and the Curragh, and the two games against Harlequins and Saracens, but that the real test for the squad is the Magners League and competitive matches.
The inclusion of Sean Cronin and Gavin Duffy, back from International duty, is a welcome boost to Elwood's squad which has seen a number of players ruled out for extended periods with injury.
They include team captain John Muldoon, who is recovering from a broken arm, and back injury victims Robbie Morris and Johnny O'Connor.
CONNACHT Squad (v Newport Gwent Dragons) - Backs (12): Cillian Willis, Adam Kennedy, Frank Murphy, Miah Nikora, Ian Keatley, Fionn Carr, Keith Matthews, Niva Ta'auso, Tiernan O'Halloran, Aidan Wynne, Troy Nathan, Gavin Duffy.
Forwards (14): Ronan Loughney, Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Dermot Murphy, Adrian Flavin, Rob Sweeney, Jamie Hagan, Dave Nolan, Michael Swift, Bernie Upton, Michael McCarthy, Ray Ofisa, Mike McComish, Ezra Taylor.