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Swift Set For 150th League Appearance

Swift Set For 150th League Appearance

Head coach Eric Elwood has made a number of changes to his Connacht side as they prepare to take on Heineken Cup champions Leinster at the Sportsground on Friday (kick-off 8pm).

Robbie Henshaw replaces injured captain Gavin Duffy (hamstring) in the full-back position. The 19-year-old earned his first competitive start in Glasgow last weekend and had made a notable impact from the bench in all three previous league matches.

Both Tiernan O’Halloran and Fetu’u Vainikolo return to their starting positions on the wing, while Eoin Griffin joins the in-form David McSharry in the centre.

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Notable, former Scotland out-half Dan Parks will make a welcome return to rugby as he debuts for the province, having recovered from a troublesome calf injury.

Up front, Brett Wilkinson makes way for Denis Buckley at loosehead prop and former Leinster prop Nathan White, who also captains the side, starts again on the tighthead side of the scrum.

Michael Swift slots back into the second row for a record 150th RaboDirect PRO12 appearance, combining again with Ireland international Mike McCarthy.

Eoin McKeon, who started the last two weeks in the number 8 position, moves to blindside flanker with Johnny O’Connor and George Naoupu completing the selected back row.

The westerners have lost their first two home games of the season, going down to the Cardiff Blues and Scarlets, so experienced lock Swift is hoping for a better result against their provincial rivals.

“Leinster at home is a match that always excites and it’s a fixture that we’ve done well in recently and it will be great to make my 150th appearance – I didn’t really know about that to be honest,” he said.

“I want to keep going with Connacht for as long as I can and as long as the legs let me.

“Hopefully we can get the win, losing the first two matches means it has been a disappointing start to the season but like last year, we’re not too far away.”

CONNACHT (v Leinster): Robbie Henshaw; Tiernan O’Halloran, Eoin Griffin, David McSharry, Fetu’u Vainikolo; Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Adrian Flavin, Nathan White (capt), Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Eoin McKeon, Johnny O’Connor, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Jason Harris-Wright, Brett Wilkinson, Ronan Loughney, David Gannon, Willie Faloon, David Moore, Miah Nikora, Mata Fifita.