18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Blackrock College clubman Shane Monahan will also make his competitive bow for Connacht, while recent South African recruit Dylan Rogers starts on the replacements bench.
Eric Elwood's selected side boasts a mix of youth and experience, and will be led by experienced hooker Adrian Flavin.
Buccaneers duo Brian Tuohy and Conor O'Loughlin are hoping to impress in their first appearances of the season for Connacht.
Miah Nikora and Cillian Willis form an exciting half-back partnership, while Ferbane native Aidan Wynne and Galway youngster Eoin Griffin are set to link up in midfield for this Sportsground clash, which will be televised live on RTE Two.
The westerners' squad has a total of eight graduates from the Connacht Academy which has prospered in recent years under the guidance of Academy Director and Ireland Under-20 assistant coach Nigel Carolan.
The eight players are McKeon, Conneely, O'Loughlin, Wynne, Griffin, Ronan Loughney, Andrew Browne and Dermot Murphy.
CONNACHT (v Samoa): Troy Nathan; Shane Monahan, Eoin Griffin, Aidan Wynne, Brian Tuohy; Miah Nikora, Cillian Willis; Ronan Loughney, Adrian Flavin (capt), Barry Fa'amausili, Andrew Browne, Bernie Upton, Eoin McKeon, Mike McComish, Ezra Taylor.
Replacements: Dermot Murphy, Rob Sweeney, Dylan Rogers, Michael McCarthy, Shane Conneely, Conor O'Loughlin, Darragh Fanning.
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