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 start a run of six home games in the Magners League when the Ospreys travel to Galway on Friday. The Welsh region have won the last three meetings between the sides.
MAGNERS LEAGUE: Friday, September 8
CONNACHT v OSPREYS, The Sportsground, 6.30pm
**IrishRugby.ie will be running a live match tracker from the Sportsground**
Team News: Connacht have made once change to the side that beat Border Reivers in their Magners League opener - Darren Yapp has a knee injury and his wing berth has been taken by Keith Matthews. Yapp is still fit enough for bench duty.
Ospreys coach Lyn Jones has made four changes to the team that started last weekend's 17-11 win over Edinburgh Gunners. Two of those are in the back row with Andy Lloyd and Richie Pugh coming in for Jonathan Thomas and Steve Tandy.
Barry Williams gets the nod at hooker, replacing Huw Bennett, while Tal Selley will start on the left wing having replaced Nikki Walker.
Connacht: Matt Mostyn; Conor McPhillips, Paul Warwick, Gavin Williams, Keith Matthews; Mark McHugh (capt), Chris Keane; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Stephen Knoop, David Gannon, Andrew Farley, John Muldoon, Matt Lacey, Colm Rigney.
Replacements: John Fogarty, Michael Diffley, Michael Swift, Brendan O'Connor, Tom Tierney, Darren Yapp, Daniel Riordan.
Ospreys: Lee Byrne; Shane Williams, Sonny Parker, Gavin Henson, Nikki Walker; James Hook, Justin Marshall; Duncan Jones (capt), Barry Williams, Adam Jones, Brent Cockbain, Alun Wyn Jones, Andy Lloyd, Richie Pugh, Ryan Jones
Replacements: Martin Roberts, Andrew Bishop, Tal Selley, Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Lyndon Bateman, Filo Tiatia
Referee: Iain Heard (Scotland)
Touch Judges: Leo Colgan, Peter Ferguson (both Ireland)
Coach Speak: Michael Bradley (Connacht) - "With 24 full internationals, the Ospreys are rightly one of the favourites to win the competition and we know we will face a huge test.
"But I was very pleased with the way we performed last week, especially up front where we faced a pack full of internationals. Our work rate was the reason we prevailed. We seemed to get stronger (against the Borders) as the game progressed and I am looking for something similar on Friday."
Lyn Jones (Ospreys) - "Connacht have been a difficult side for all of the Welsh regions to beat over the last few years. They are a highly motivated bunch of players, who always show great pride on their home patch.
"Although we were disappointed with the score line, our performance last weekend was a step in the right direction with 10 players playing their first game in months.
"We caught Connacht at a low point last May, but totally understand the size of Friday night's challenge. Win or lose we will continue to build on each performance and we aim to hit European rugby in the best shape possible."
PREVIOUS LEAGUE MEETINGS:
October 2003 - Ospreys 22 Connacht 33, St. Helen's
April 2004 - Connacht 24 Ospreys 21, The Sportsground
November 2004 - Ospreys 9 Connacht 10, The Gnoll
April 2005 - Connacht 13 Ospreys 22, The Sportsground
October 2005 - Ospreys 18 Connacht 17, Liberty Stadium
May 2006 - Connacht 16 Ospreys 44, The Sportsgound
- Connacht have won their last two league matches against Glasgow Warriors and Border Reivers but have not registered three successive wins in the competition since November-December 2004
- The Ospreys also started off the new league campaign with a win last weekend - a 17-11 victory over Edinburgh at Liberty Stadium
- Honours are even in the six previous meetings between the two teams with three wins apiece, however Connacht won the first three clashes and the Ospreys have taken the most recent trio
- Connacht out-half Mark McHugh is the league's second top points scorer after round one. The former Ireland international kicked 16 points - four penalties and two conversions - against Border Reivers. His kicking percentage stands at 75% - he had six successes from eight attempts in Scotland last week
- Connacht have managed to score a try in all six of their previous meetings with the Ospreys, but leaked seven tries to the Ospreys' last May on their last visit to the Sportsground. The westerners' best win came in 2003 when tries from Wayne Munn, Bernard Jackman, Mike McCarthy and Conor McPhillips helped them to a 33-22 success at St. Helen's