Out-half Andrew Deegan is set to make his debut for Connacht against conference rivals Cardiff Blues in the GUINNESS PRO14 at the Sportsground on Saturday (kick-off 3.15pm).
Andrew Deegan signed for Connacht from the NSW Warathas ahead of the new season and joined up with the squad two weeks ago. The former Australia Under-20 international is among a host of changes to the side that started the 21-8 defeat away to the Dragons last week.
Deegan (22) forms a new half-back pairing with Ireland international Kieran Marmion who returns to the starting XV after coming off the bench against the Dragons. The team includes two other players making their first starts of the season – Dave Heffernan comes in at hooker and Craig Ronaldson is reunited with Bundee Aki in midfield.
Back in the front five are Ireland internationals Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux, while Jarrad Butler is included in the back row for his third start of the 2017/18 campaign. Ahead of the round 4 clash with Cardiff, Butler spoke of the style of play that new head coach Kieran Keane is trying to instill in the squad.
“There is a big emphasis on players taking ownership for what they do in the game and taking responsibility for what we do on the field. Obviously, ‘KK’ wants to play an attacking exciting brand of rugby and that is a great environment for us to play in,” he said.
Looking forward to Saturday’s game in Galway, Connacht forwards coach Jimmy Duffy added: “Cardiff had a good performance last weekend and they came very close to Glasgow. We are fully aware of the quality in their side and we give them the upmost respect.
“Every game we have played against Cardiff over the last few years has been in the balance. We are generally close to each other in the table and this year will be no different now that we are in the same conference.”
CONNACHT (v Cardiff Blues): Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Rory Scholes; Andrew Deegan, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Gavin Thornbury, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Tom Farrell, Stacey Ili.