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.
Connacht centre Keith Matthews has made a rapid recovery from a quad muscle injury and could feature in Michael Bradley's team selection for Friday's Challenge Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons (Kingston Park Stadium, 7.30pm).
The 23-year-old UL Bohemians clubman sustained the injury in the westerners' Celtic League defeat to Leinster at Donnybrook on March 5, but has rehabbed well and is fighting fight for the quarter-final trip.
Matthews has been arguably Connacht's player of the season with eight tries in 18 games - 17 as a starter.
Bradley, who names his side on Thursday, has a number of options at centre now, although Darren Yapp, who has been deployed as a winger of late, is rated doubtful with a hamstring injury. Out-half Paul Warwick (hamstring) could also miss out while flanker Brendan O'Connor has an ankle injury.
Bradley's midfield options include starting Andrew Mailei and Mark McHugh together - the duo combined well last week against the Borders - bringing Matthews or the fit-again James Downey, who played on the wing for Clontarf against Belfast Harlequins in the AIB League last Saturday, in, or drafting New Zealander Gavin Williams in for his Challenge Cup debut.
Both Mailei, a Tongan international, and Williams, the son or former All Black winger Bryan, were registered by the province as squad additions for the Cup's knock-out stages.
Over 500 Connacht supporters are expected to make the trip over for the province's first 'one off' quarter-final since 1998's 40-27 defeat in Agen. This is the fourth successive season that Connacht had qualified through to the last-eight - the three previous years' quarter-finals were played over two legs.