As Connacht travel to Italy for round 15 of the GUINNESS PRO12 against Zebre, head coach Pat Lam has made five personnel changes to the team that lined out in the bonus point victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons.
Ireland international Kieran Marmion returns to the back-line and links up with AJ MacGinty at half-back. Winger Niyi Adeolokun will play his 10th game this season in a pacey back-three with Tiernan O’Halloran and Connacht’s top try scorer this season, Matt Healy.
Finlay Bealham has also been released from Ireland squad duty this week to take his place in the front row, having featured in every game for Connacht this season. 25-year-old lock Ben Marshall has returned from the arm injury that has kept him sidelined since November to start in the second row alongside Aly Muldowney.
Galway-born Eoin McKeon is promoted from the bench to wear the number 8 jersey in a back row with Jake Heenan and captain John Muldoon.
Previewing his side’s trip to Parma, Pat Lam said: “As we head away on one of the longer away trips in the PRO12 schedule, it was great to have some of our Irish boys back from camp to train with us as well as a few guys coming off the injured list.
“We’ve been over to play Zebre a fair few times in the last couple of years between PRO12 and Europe and they’ve always challenged us, particularly up front. There’s no doubt they will be fired up to make amends for their big defeat to Leinster last week.
“We’ve seen what they can do to teams this season, particulary on their home ground, so we will need to be right on top of our game mentally.
“While it’s extremely tight at the top end of the table, we are solely focused on the quality of our performance on Saturday to get the points on offer in what will be another tough test on the road.”
CONNACHT (v Zebre): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy; AJ MacGinty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ben Marshall, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Jake Heenan, Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Rodney Ah You, George Naoupu, Eoghan Masterson, Caolin Blade, Peter Robb, Danie Poolman.