Connacht coach Eric Elwood has confirmed his 23-man matchday squad to face Benetton Treviso at Stadio di Monigo on Saturday (kick-off 7.05pm local time/6.05pm Irish time).
The selected squad sees new prop Barry Fa’amausili join centurion Brett Wilkinson in an exciting blend of experience and youth.
Connacht Academy graduates Dermot Murphy and Ronan Loughney, along with Adrian Flavin and Jamie Hagan complete the front row options, while Cillian Willis, Frank Murphy, Miah Nikora and Ian Keatley make up the half-backs.
Wilkinson, Gavin Duffy and team captain John Muldoon are set to feature against Benetton Treviso this weekend, after being released from the Ireland camp.
This will be Connacht’s first ever encounter with Treviso, who have been in formidable form at home. They have claimed the scalps of the Scarlets, Leinster and the Newport Gwent Dragons already this season.
With both sides locked together on 12 points in the league table, Connacht coach Eric Elwood is readying his players for a ‘hugely physical task.’
“We have been monitoring Treviso closely over the last few weeks and we know they rested seven players last week against Munster so they will be waiting for us,” he said.
“They are making a big push with an emphasis on home matches so it’s a big test for us. Leinster came unstuck there and they pushed Leicester in the Heineken Cup recently.”
The former Connacht and Ireland out-half added: “We feel with our best players (fit and available), we are going to be competitive. We are modifying training this week.
“The Bayonne and Leinster games were physically demanding, and this one will be the same, so we want the lads to feel fresh.”
CONNACHT Squad (v Benetton Treviso) – Backs (10): Cillian Willis, Darragh Fanning, Fionn Carr, Frank Murphy, Gavin Duffy, Ian Keatley, Keith Matthews, Miah Nikora, Niva Ta’auso, Troy Nathan.
Forwards (13): Adrian Flavin, Barry Fa’amausili, Bernie Upton, Brett Wilkinson, Dermot Murphy, Ezra Taylor, Jamie Hagan, John Muldoon, Johnny O’Connor, Michael McCarthy, Michael Swift, Ronan Loughney, Ray Ofisa.