Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made two personnel changes to the team that will host Benetton Treviso at the Sportsground on Sunday (kick-off 5.15pm).
Galway man Tiernan O’Halloran, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, will earn his first start of the season, lining out at full-back. With Niyi Adeolokun named on the right wing, top try scorer Danie Poolman moves to outside centre and Craig Ronaldson shifts to out-half.
There are no changes to the pack from the side originally selected to face the Dragons, with Nathan White set to start at tighthead prop after his late withdrawal in Newport. Academy back rower Eoghan Masterson, who was a try scorer against the Welsh region, is retained at number 8.
Ronan Loughney has returned from injury to take his place on the bench, while fellow Galway native Conor Finn has been named among the replacement backs.
Commenting on the team selection and the visit of the Italians, Pat Lam said: “After two good performances off the bench, Tiernan certainly deserves his start on Sunday. He brought a lot of intensity when introduced in the last two games and his leadership and communication skills are a big asset in a very young back-line.
“Mils (Muliaina) was close to playing this week but we decided not to take the risk and so Niyi gets his opportunity on Sunday.
“Treviso showed last week how dangerous they are with their impressive five-try win over Cardiff Blues. They are always strong up front, but they’ve shown recently how effective they can be moving the ball out wide. We’re going to have to bring it to another level again on Sunday, especially in defence.
“We’re sitting in sixth place at the moment but like last week we still don’t have a safety net, and we have to continue to perform as a team against Treviso.
“It’s been over six weeks since our last home game so everyone is really looking forward to playing in front of our home supporters again at the Sportsground.”
CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Danie Poolman, Dave McSharry, Matt Healy; Craig Ronaldson, John Cooney; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Nathan White, Quinn Roux, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Jake Heenan, Eoghan Masterson.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, Michael Kearney, George Naoupu, Ian Porter, Jack Carty, Conor Finn.