Connacht head coach Pat Lam has named his team to play Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 5pm). There are three changes to the side that started against Glasgow Warriors last time out.
Finlay Bealham comes into the front row for his first start of the season, replacing Ireland international Rodney Ah You who picked up a hamstring injury during the week.
Galway man Eoin McKeon returns from injury to line out at number 8 in a back row combination with captain John Muldoon and Nepia-Fox Matamua. Ireland international Kieran Marmion will start at scrum half in an otherwise unchanged back-line.
From the bench, experienced forwards Aly Muldowney and George Naoupu are in line to make their seasonal debuts, while year one Academy prop Conan O’Donnell (pictured below) is named in the matchday squad for the first time. The 19-year-old from Sligo has nine Ireland Under-20 caps from last season’s World Rugby U-20 Championship and Six Nations competitions.
Commenting on the team selection and the visit of Cardiff, Pat Lam said: “Having recently lost Rodney, Ultan (Dillane) and Eoghan (Masterson) to injury, we see some changes to the team from last time out. Again, it’s a very young side, especially the back-line, so it’s always pleasing to be able to call on the experience of guys like Aly and George from the bench.
“Young Conan has been called up. We are low on tightheads with Nathan (White) away at the World Cup. It’s probably a bit earlier than Conan expected to be playing PRO12 rugby but he is a talented player who has a lot of experience with the Under-20s. He has prepared well this week in training and I have no doubt he will grab the opportunity with both hands if he’s called on tomorrow.
“The boys can’t wait to get back out and play again tomorrow and having our home support behind us will certainly help in our fight for points.
“Cardiff are a good side who have had a similar start to the season as us. We’ve both had a little more time to prepare for this game than normal schedules would allow, so it’s certainly set up to be a lively encounter.”
CONNACHT (v Cardiff Blues): Tiernan O’Halloran; Danie Poolman, Rory Parata, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne, John Muldoon (capt), Nepia Fox-Matamua, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Conan O’Donnell, Aly Muldowney, George Naoupu, John Cooney, Craig Ronaldson, Fionn Carr.