Head coach Pat Lam has named his Connacht team to face the Scarlets in Llanelli on Sunday at the early kick-off time of 12.45pm.
Ireland international Kieran Marmion, who celebrated his 23rd birthday this week, has returned from national camp to take his place at scrum half for his 65th Connacht appearance. Jack Carty starts at out-half for the 15th time this season.
Darragh Leader shifts from wing to full-back with Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy starting on the wings in a back-line that has an average age of just under 24.
In the centre, the province’s top try scorer this season, Danie Poolman, is named to start outside Dave McSharry who recently committed to Connacht for two more years.
Up front, the front row is boosted by the return of tighthead prop Nathan White who plays his first GUINNESS PRO12 game since October.
Jake Heenan (pictured below) makes his long-awaited return since his injury in round 1 of the PRO12 and starts in a back row with captain John Muldoon and number 8 George Naoupu.
Eoghan Masterson and Tiernan O’Halloran are in line to make their seasonal debuts from the replacements bench, while it will be a first cap for out-half Shane O’Leary if he is called upon.
Commenting on the team selection and the clash with the Scarlets, Pat Lam said: “We lost Eoin (McKeon) and Mils (Muliaina) to injury which was obviously a big blow, especially on top of the loss of another back row in Willie (Faloon). But with these guys going down, it’s good to welcome back Jake and Tiernan from long-term injuries.
“What we see with this team are the huge opportunities up for grabs for so many young players. The likes of Shane O’Leary, who has worked hard in training and for the Eagles, has his first matchday involvement and we’re delighted for him.
“This is a huge game for us against a well-coached and quality side in the Scarlets. We know they are breathing right behind us and like us, they have top six aspirations. We haven’t won on their soil since 2004 and we’ve never won at Parc y Scarlets. We’ve challenged ourselves to take it to another level for this block of four games, and it must start with a performance this Sunday.”
McKeon sustained a fractured sternum and is expected to be out of action for four weeks, while former All Black Muliaina is also looking at up to four weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring tear.
CONNACHT (v Scarlets): Darragh Leader; Niyi Adeolokun, Danie Poolman, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Nathan White, Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Jake Heenan, George Naoupu.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, Ian Porter, Shane O’Leary, Tiernan O’Halloran.