10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The Connacht team that takes to the Sportsground pitch for tonight's Challenge Cup tie with Montpellier (kick-off 6.30pm) will show seven changes to the side that went down 13-0 to Munster last weekend.
Coach Michael Bradley has opted for an overhaul of his starting line-up, with a number of frontline players not included, notably prop Ray Hogan (calf muscle) and winger Conor McPhillips (nose).
Front rowers Brett Wilkinson and Adrian Flavin return to the side, as does flanker Michael Swift. In the backs, David Slemen and Conor O'Loughlin will start as the hosts' half-back pairing, while Ted Robinson and Gavin Williams will don the number 11 and 12 jerseys respectively.
There are two positional switches - John Muldoon moves to number eight, owing to Colm Rigney's absence, and Keith Matthews switches from the centre to the right wing. Prop Brett Sturgess has also forced his way into the matchday 22.
With hooker John Fogarty being ousted by Flavin, Australian lock Andrew Farley will captain the westerners.
Regarding his selection policy, Bradley admitted: "While we have been performing well of late, we have not been winning matches. We have a group of players who have been doing well in the 'A' matches for Galwegians and Buccaneers and they deserve the opportunity to play at home against Montpellier."
Tonight's game is a must-win one for Bradley's charges - Pool 4 is dominated by NEC Harlequins and Bath at the moment, who sit on nine and eight points respectively. Connacht, who lost tight games to the English duo in October, lie third with two points.
"We're still in the competition but we can't afford any slip-ups. We need results this weekend and next against Montpellier and then we'll see how we are fixed," added Bradley.
Connacht have a proud record in the Challenge Cup, having qualified for the quarter-finals for the past four seasons.
CONNACHT: Daniel Riordan; Keith Matthews, Paul Warwick, Gavin Williams, Ted Robinson; David Slemen, Conor O'Loughlin; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Stephen Knoop, David Gannon, Andrew Farley (capt), Michael Swift, Ray Ofisa, John Muldoon.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Brett Sturgess, Brendan O'Connor, Colm Rigney, Chris Keane, Mark McHugh, John Hearty.