Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made three personnel changes to his side for Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO12 final round match against league leaders, the Ospreys, at the Sportsground (kick-off 3pm).
Scrum half Kieran Marmion starts in a back-line that also sees Connacht centurion and record try scorer, Fionn Carr, named on the right wing.
Up front, Galway man Andrew Browne is promoted from the bench to join Aly Muldowney in the second row. John Muldoon, who has started all 22 PRO12 fixtures this season, will once again captain the province from the back row alongside Eoghan Masterson and Eoin McKeon.
The most notable inclusion on the bench is Connacht’s most-capped player of all-time Michael Swift, who has worked his way back from injury to take his place among the replacements for what could be his last home game before he retires.
The 37-year-old Swift, who has played 263 times for the province, is also joined on the bench by Miah Nikora and Shane O’Leary, one of Connacht’s try scorers last time out against Zebre.
Commenting on the team selection and how important this match is for Connacht, Pat Lam said: “Losing Darragh (Leader) and Danie (Poolman) in the same week to what is already extensive injury list was obviously a blow, but with the culture of team work we have, it’s just another opportunity for the next guy to step up and do the job.
“This is probably the most experienced team that we can put out and that will be vital against the Ospreys. No man has more experience than Michael Swift. He has worked extremely hard the last few months to get himself back to this position and the preparation, detail and intensity he showed in training this week demonstrated how deserved his inclusion is in the matchday squad.
“We all know the enormity of this game. Since pre-season, we have set our sights on a top six finish and to be going into round 22 with our ultimate goal still a possibility is very exciting. It’s uncharted waters for Connacht Rugby to have so much to play for at this stage of the season and we’re really relishing it.
“Come 5pm on Saturday, we will know our fate. We have no control over other results so all we can do is focus on winning at the Sportsground in front of our supporters to give ourselves the best possible chance of qualification and to finish the season on a massive high.”
CONNACHT (v Ospreys): Tiernan O’Halloran; Fionn Carr, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You, Andrew Browne, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Finlay Bealham, Michael Swift, George Naoupu, John Cooney, Miah Nikora, Shane O’Leary.