Head coach Kieran Keane has made seven changes to the Connacht side that secured a bonus point win over the Southern Kings last week as the province travel to Rodney Parade to take on the Dragons on Friday night (kick-off 7.30pm).
Rory Scholes, Caolin Blade, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux and Jake Heenan all come into the team for their first starts of the season, while back rower Eoghan Masterson gets the nod for his second start.
Scholes will make his competitive debut for the province on the left wing in place of Matt Healy. Blade is included in the side at scrum half as Ireland international Kieran Marmion drops to the replacements bench.
The other five changes are in the pack with two alterations in the front row. Coulson makes his first start for Connacht at loosehead prop after coming off the bench to make his debut in the Kings game, with Carey starting at tighthead prop.
Ireland international Roux and Heenan are also brought in for their first starts of the new GUINNESS PRO14 campaign. Roux combining with James Cannon in the second row and Heenan slotting in at openside flanker.. Masterson, a try-scorer off the bench in round 2, replaces the injured Sean O’Brien on the blindside.
With six points from two home games, Connacht are on the road for the first time this season in Wales and assistant coach Nigel Carolan is not underestimating the challenge posed by Bernard Jackman’s Dragons squad.
Speaking to the media earlier this week, Carolan said: “Bernard Jackman is trying to rebuild the Dragons and create a strong identity, much like he did in Grenoble. They will be a tight-knit group and very difficult to play against.
“They have some real firepower with Ashton Hewitt, Zane Kirchner, and the boot of Gavin Henson. It is going to be a very difficult game for us and we have to make sure we build on last week and are more effective than we were against the Kings.”
CONNACHT (v Dragons): Tiernan O’Halloran; Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Rory Scholes; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.