Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced an extended squad for the province’s RaboDirect PRO12 match against the Scarlets on Saturday afternoon.
The selected squad remains largely unchanged from last weekend when Connacht beat Benetton Treviso in the opening round of the league.
Props Brett Wilkinson and Stewart Maguire are both back from injury and included in the 26-man panel as Eric Elwood prepares the players for their first game at the redeveloped Sportsground.
Wilkinson was heavily involved with Ireland’s Rugby World Cup training squad before suffering a grade 3 tear in his hamstring during pre-season training.
Speaking about his recovery, he said: “I knew it was serious as soon as it happened but it took a while to fully realise the damage that was done and that I’d ruled myself out of a chance to go to the World Cup.
“I was gutted, especially watching the warm-up games when I knew that was my chance make the squad.
“It’s been a long hard slog to get back up to full fitness. In the gym at 7.30am every morning doing rehab and working with the physios to build up the muscles around the hamstring and regain the strength in the leg, but it’s been worth it.
“The recovery has gone really well and I’ve been back training for the last three weeks. I feel the time is right for me to make my comeback. It’s great to be able to put your hand up for selection and stake a claim for a spot on the team.”
He added: “It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved with Connacht, there’s huge changes going on.
“There are new players in the squad, new stands in stadium, an increase in Season Ticket sales, the Heineken Cup, it really is an exciting time for everyone involved.
“The first home game is always a big match and the Scarlets will be no exception. It’s always a tough, physical game against them and we expect nothing less this weekend.
“I was involved in both matches against the Scarlets last season, when we beat them here at the Sportsground and lost to an injury-time try at Parc y Scarlets. Everyone’s looking forward to the match this weekend in front of the home crowd.”
CONNACHT Squad (v Scarlets) – Backs (11): Gavin Duffy, Henry Fa’afili, Eoin Griffin, Matthew Jarvis, James Loxton, Mark McCrea, Frank Murphy, Niall O’Connor, Paul O’Donohoe, Tiernan O’Halloran, Brian Tuohy.
Forwards (15): Rodney Ah You, Thomas Anderson, Denis Buckley, Adrian Flavin, Ronan Loughney, Stewart Maguire, Mike McCarthy, John Muldoon, George Naoupu, Johnny O’Connor, Ray Ofisa, Dylan Rogers, Ethienne Reynecke, Michael Swift, Brett Wilkinson.