Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made six changes to his team ahead of Sunday’s GUINNESS PRO12 clash with Benetton Treviso at Stadio di Monigo (kick-off 1.30pm local time/12.30pm Irish time).
Bundee Aki makes a welcome return to the side, lining out in midfield with Craig Ronaldson. Caolin Blade will start at scrumhalf once again having been drafted in late to the starting XV in place of Ireland international Kieran Marmion last Saturday.
Danie Poolman makes his 80th Connacht appearance, coming in to start for Matt Healy who picked up a minor hip injury in training during the week.
Up front, hooker Shane Delahunt earns his third start of the season as he packs down in the front row with props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham. James Cannon joins Ultan Dillane in the second row, while Nepia Fox-Matamua gets his opportunity in the highly competitive back row alongside Galway duo Sean O’Brien and John Muldoon.
Commenting on this weekend’s opponents, Pat Lam said: “We know from experience how difficult it is to go to Treviso and get a good result. With the travel factor and the short turnaround on the other side, It is so important that we get our mental preparation spot on as well as the physical side of things.
“Every game and every point is vital for us and we will be going to Italy fully intent on improving on last week’s performance (in the 14-9 win over the Dragons).”
Connacht’s injury list currently includes Healy and Cian Kelleher, who both picked up injuries in training this week, Conor Carey, Ivan Soroka, Conan O’Donnell, Marnitz Boshoff, Darragh Leader and Josh Rowland. Hooker Tom McCartney is on paternity leave.
CONNACHT (v Benetton Treviso): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Danie Poolman; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, James Cannon, Sean O’Brien, Nepia Fox-Matamua, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, John Andress, Quinn Roux, Naulia Dawai, John Cooney, Tom Farrell, Stacey Ili.