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Connacht Make Nine Changes For Ospreys Clash

Connacht Make Nine Changes For Ospreys Clash

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made nine changes to his starting line-up ahead of the GUINNESS PRO12 game away to the Ospreys on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

New recruit Bundee Aki will make his first appearance in a Connacht jersey at the Liberty Stadium, starting in a centre partnership with Craig Ronaldson.

Ireland squad members Kieran Marmion, Rodney Ah You and Darragh Leader have all been temporarily released from the international training camp to play a part in the league game, with Marmion and Ah You set to start.

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Winger Matt Healy and out-half Jack Carty are both recalled to the back-line, while the 22-year-old Shane Layden is given the nod at full-back for his second start of the season.

Celebrating his 24th birthday today, lock Quinn Roux returns to the pack and the Galway-born duo of captain John Muldoon and Eoin McKeon are named in the back row.

The most notable inclusion on the bench is Mayo-born prop Jamie Dever who is in line to make his senior Connacht debut. The 21-year-old rejoined the Connacht Academy this season following a year-long sabbatical that allowed him to recover from a lengthy foot injury.

JP Cooney, another of the province’s props, is also likely to make his first appearance of the season against the league leaders in Swansea.

Commenting on the team selection and Friday night’s opponents, head coach Pat Lam said: “With Robbie (Henshaw) away in Ireland camp, Bundee gets his opportunity a bit earlier than expected after just arriving in the country a week-and-a-half ago.

“We were initially looking at Bundee for our next game with Zebre but it’s great that he’s been keen to get going as soon as possible. He’s been very open to learning quickly in training and has made a big effort in getting to know his team-mates.

“There will undoubtedly be a good bit of spotlight on him tomorrow night against the Ospreys, but as always it is only a team effort that can lead to a positive outcome for us.

“As foreseen we’ve made a good few changes this week and injuries and international call-ups considered, we believe we have the strongest squad possible going out there tomorrow night.

“We’re going down to play the top team in the league on their home ground. It is our biggest challenge of the season so far. The Ospreys are a well-coached, well-drilled side with strike power all over the field.

“We know we will have to raise our standards considerably from last week, particularly in defence. But we’re all focused on the process of picking up as many league points as we can.”

CONNACHT (v Ospreys): Shane Layden; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Michael Kearney, Quinn Roux, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Jamie Dever, JP Cooney, Andrew Browne, Willie Faloon, Ian Porter, Dave McSharry, Darragh Leader.