Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has announced his starting line-up to face Benetton Treviso at the Sportsground on Friday (kick-off 7.30pm).
Eric Elwood has opted for a team that blends an experienced pack with an exciting and dynamic back-line. In total there are seven changes to the side that started against the Ospreys last weekend.
Ethienne Reynecke and Ronan Loughney have been called into the front row. They join Brett Wilkinson after making their mark against Toulouse a fortnight ago.
A powerful second row combination of Michael Swift and George Naoupu backs them up, while David Gannon, John Muldoon and Ray Ofisa, who earns his 100th cap for Connacht, complete the back row.
Frank Murphy and Niall O’Connor make for a changed half-back pairing. The duop last started together in Connacht’s narrow defeat to the Cardiff Blues in October.
Centre sensation David McSharry moves back to inside centre, while Connacht’s latest signing, Kyle Tonetti, gets his first taste of senior action at outside centre. The 24-year-old flyer joined Connacht from Sale Sharks recently.
Mark McCrea earns a start on the right wing. The former Ireland underage international scored the match-winning try against the Dragons earlier this season.
McCrea joins fellow winger Tiernan O’Halloran and full-back and captain Gavin Duffy in a potent-looking back-three.
CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso): Gavin Duffy (capt); Mark McCrea, Kyle Tonetti, David McSharry, Tiernan O’Halloran; Niall O’Connor, Frank Murphy; Brett Wilkinson, Ethienne Reynecke, Ronan Loughney, Michael Swift, George Naoupu, David Gannon, John Muldoon, Ray Ofisa.
Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Denis Buckley, Rodney Ah You, Michael Kearney, Eoghan Grace, Paul O’Donohoe, Matthew Jarvis, Fetu’u Vainikolo.