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 province has been boosted by the return from injury of Fetu'u Vainikolo. The Tongan winger is the only change to the back-line and is named alongside Robbie Henshaw and Danie Poolman in a strong back-three.
The front row trio of Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright and stand-in captain Nathan White remains in place, while Mike McCarthy comes into the second row to partner Michael Swift.
Meanwhile, in the back row, versatile forward George Naoupu returns to his regular number 8 position and Eoin McKeon is moved to openside flanker.
Connacht's first game of 2013 sees them taking on the team immediately below them in the league table. Tickets are still available from the Connacht Branch offices and www.ticketmaster.ie.
CONNACHT (v Newport Gwent Dragons): Robbie Henshaw; Danie Poolman, Eoin Griffin, David McSharry, Fetu'u Vainikolo; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White (capt), Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne, Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Brett Wilkinson, Ronan Loughney, Michael Kearney, Eoghan Grace, Paul O'Donohoe, Matthew Jarvis, Tiernan O'Halloran.