Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his starting line-up and replacement for Saturday’s RaboDirect PRO12 encounter with Benetton Treviso at Stadio di Monigo (kick-off 3pm local time/2pm Irish time).
Full-back Gavin Duffy will lead the side out, having been unveiled as Connacht’s new captain earlier this week.
The former Mayo minor footballer has 10 Ireland Test caps and was part of Declan Kidney’s Rugby World Cup training squad this summer.
He is supported on the wings by flying Ulsterman Mark McCrea and Ireland Under-20 International Tiernan O’Halloran, while the dynamic centre partnership of Henry Fa’afili and Eoin Griffin gets its first outing in competitive action.
Talented scrum half Frank Murphy and former Ospreys out-half Matthew Jarvis will also start their first league game together, following a fine display in the pre-season friendly against Saracens last week.
Connacht have four players in the pack with more than 100 caps each. Adrian Flavin, recent Ireland debutant Mike McCarthy and John Muldoon have all reached the milestone, while Michael Swift is just short of his 200th cap for the province.
Ronan Loughney and Ray Ofisa, with 80 and 89 caps respectively, provide plenty more experience with George Naoupu and Rodney Ah You completing the starting pack.
Meanwhile, Connacht will play their first home game of the season at the newly-refurbished Sportsground next weekend when they host the Scarlets on Saturday, September 10.
Tickets for that match, along with Season Tickets, can still be purchased from www.connachtrugby.ie.
CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso): Gavin Duffy (capt); Mark McCrea, Eoin Griffin, Henry Fa’afili, Tiernan O’Halloran; Matthew Jarvis, Frank Murphy; Ronan Loughney, Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Denis Buckley, Dylan Rogers, Thomas Anderson, Johnny O’Connor, Paul O’Donohoe, Niall O’Connor, Brian Tuohy.