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MacGinty Features In Much-Changed Connacht Team

MacGinty Features In Much-Changed Connacht Team

Pat Lam has named his Connacht team to face Brive in round 5 of the European Challenge Cup at Stade Amédée-Domenech on Saturday (kick-off 8.45pm local time/7.45pm Irish time). The head coach has made 10 changes to the side that faced the Scarlets five days ago.

USA international out-half AJ MacGinty has been handed his third start of the season, and Ian Porter comes in to partner him at half-back. Bundee Aki moves to inside centre to allow Academy centre Rory Parata wear the number 13 jersey.

Danie Poolman returns to start on the right wing, while Tiernan O’Halloran and Matt Healy – the scorer of a terrific solo try in Llanelli last weekend – are retained to complete the back-three.

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Up front, Ronan Loughney, Jason Harris-Wright and Rodney Ah You start in a new front row and Aly Muldowney partners Ultan Dillane in the second row this week.

Academy flankers Sean O’Brien and James Connolly are named in the back row, with captain John Muldoon shifting to the number 8 position.

Denis Buckley makes a welcome return from injury to take his place on a bench that also includes George Naoupu, Caolin Blade and Peter Robb. Jack Carty is in line to mark his 50th appearance for Connacht if he is used as a replacement in France.

Commenting on the team selection and the round 5 encounter, Pat Lam said: “Saturday’s game against Brive is a massive one for us in terms of our European ambitions. Securing a home quarter-final is a goal we set out at the start of the season.

“Brive are flying in the Top 14 and have only been beaten once at home this season, so we know it’s going to be another tough assignment on the road. But playing in France is always a challenge the boys enjoy and we’re really looking forward to it.

“We’ve made a few changes to the side with the short enough turnaround from last week’s trip to Wales. With guys coming back from injury, competition for places is very high and this is a great opportunity for those lining out on Saturday to put in a performance for the team.”

CONNACHT (v Brive): Tiernan O’Halloran; Danie Poolman, Rory Parata, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty, Ian Porter; Ronan Loughney, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Ultan Dillane, Aly Muldowney, Sean O’Brien, James Connolly, John Muldoon  (capt).

Replacements: Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, George Naoupu, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Jack Carty, Peter Robb.