12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Hooker Adrian Flavin replaces Sean Cronin, who is being rested as part of the IRFU Player Welfare Programme.
Magners League debutant Eoin McKeon takes over from the injured Ezra Taylor at number 8. Taylor fractured his hand against Munster last Monday and the 19-year-old McKeon, a member of the Connacht Academy, will be hoping to build on his performance against Samoa last month.
With Taylor, regular captain John Muldoon and Ray Ofisa all currently out injured, head coach Eric Elwood admits that the province are stretched in the back row department.
"We thought Ezra was going to be okay and that he didn't require surgery but now he is going to be out for six to seven weeks," confirmed Elwood.
"That leaves us with a crisis in the back row. With John Muldoon out, we have already had to call in Eoin McKeon and with Mike McComish fluey and sick we are very short."
Miah Nikora has recovered from the illness that ruled him out of the defeat to Munster and resumes at out-half, with Ian Keatley moving to outside centre to replace the benched Niva Ta'auso.
The two final changes are on the wings as Brian Tuohy and Connacht Academy graduate Eoin Griffin gain call-ups, slotting in for Fionn Carr and Darragh Fanning.
The 20-year-old Griffin, who has played four times in the Magners League, returns for the first time since suffering a hand injury against Edinburgh last month.
The side will be captained by centre Keith Matthews, who is deputising in the absence of the injured Muldoon for the second game in succession.
There is a late change on the Connacht replacements bench as flu victim Mike McComish makes way for the 20-year-old Shane Conneely, who is another member of the Connacht Academy.
CONNACHT (v Leinster): Troy Nathan; Eoin Griffin, Ian Keatley, Keith Matthews (capt), Brian Tuohy; Miah Nikora, Cillian Willis; Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Jamie Hagan, Michael Swift, Michael McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Johnny O'Connor, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Dermot Murphy, Rodney Ah You, Dylan Rogers, Bernie Upton, Shane Conneely, Frank Murphy, Niva Ta'auso, Fionn Carr.