While Robbie Henshaw remains in camp with the Ireland squad, fit-again skipper Gavin Duffy, who earned his 150th Connacht cap last weekend, will start at full-back in the Welsh capital.
Fetu'u Vainikolo has been named in the left wing, replacing Tiernan O'Halloran who suffered a knee injury against the Ospreys.
With centres David McSharry (groin) and Kyle Tonetti (shoulder) both unavailable, the 27-year-old Brian Murphy will start at inside centre.
The Galway-born Murphy joined Connacht last summer from Ulster Bank League club Galwegians. He came through the Connacht age-grade system and has represented Ireland at Schools and Under-21 level.
Meanwhile, there is just one change up front with Andrew Browne replacing Michael Kearney in the second row.
Denis Buckley, who recently returned from injury, is listed among the replacements along with back rower Thomas Anderson and versatile back Matthew Jarvis who have both been lining out for Garryowen in the Ulster Bank League.
CONNACHT (v Cardiff Blues): Gavin Duffy (capt); Danie Poolman, Eoin Griffin, Brian Murphy, Fetu'u Vainikolo; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White, Michael Swift, Andrew Browne, John Muldoon, Willie Faloon, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Denis Buckley, Ronan Loughney, Michael Kearney, Thomas Anderson, Paul O'Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Matthew Jarvis.