Pat Lam has named his Connacht team to face Leinster at the RDS on Friday night in round 10 of the GUINNESS PRO12. Lock Aly Muldowney is the only survivor from the side that beat Bayonne 29-27 in France last weekend.
Centre Robbie Henshaw returns to action following his involvement for Ireland in the GUINNESS Series. The 21-year-old is partnered by Bundee Aki, who starts in his preferred position of inside centre for the first time.
Mils Muliaina is named at full-back in a back-three with Danie Poolman and Matt Healy. The 22-year-old Jack Carty is handed the reins at out-half for his first game at the RDS, while Ireland’s Kieran Marmion, who scored Connacht’s try at the Dublin venue last year, resumes duties at scrum half.
Up front, John Muldoon will captain the side in a back row which features Eoin McKeon and George Naoupu. On-loan lock Quinn Roux partners Aly Muldowney in the second row behind the front row trio of Denis Buckley, hooker Tom McCartney and Rodney Ah You.
The most notable inclusion on the bench is Academy forward Ultan Dillane. Following a string of impressive performances for Connacht Eagles, the 21-year-old lock from Tralee, County Kerry could make his Connacht senior debut on Friday.
With an injury to Ian Porter and unavailability of John Cooney, last week’s two-try hero, Caolin Blade, has also been named among the replacements.
Commenting on the team selection and the mouth-watering interprovincial derby, head coach Pat Lam said: “As per our planning, we see a different team this week to the one that lined out against Bayonne. Despite the six-day turnaround and tough 12-hour trips to and from France, we were able to have a good week’s preparation due to the use of all our squad over the last three weeks.
“This was vital as we prepare for one of the biggest challenges of our season against the defending PRO12 champions stacked with quality players and in a venue where we have never won.
“While there is huge interest and excitement from supporters, we know that we will have to be fully focused on executing our roles, the game-plan and our team work to give us any chance of success. If we do that the Connacht way, I have no doubt that we are capable of creating history on Friday.
“All the players are hugely excited to be involved in this game and it’s fantastic to be able to give Ultan, another promising player from our Academy, the opportunity to wear the Connacht jersey on the big stage.”
CONNACHT (v Leinster): Mils Muliaina; Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You, Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Willie Faloon, Caolin Blade, Craig Ronaldson, Darragh Leader.