Connacht Eagles head coach Mossy Lawler has named his team for Saturday’s opening British & Irish Cup encounter with Rotherham Titans at Clifton Lane (kick-off 2pm).
The strong selection includes a mix of senior and Connacht Academy players as Ireland international Niyi Adeolokun and Fiji international Naulia Dawai both return from injury to make their first appearances of the season.
The Connacht Academy is well represented with Matthew Byrne at full-back, Colm de Buitléar on the left wing, Kieran Joyce at inside centre, Luke Carty at out-half, Peter Claffey in the second row, and both Paul Boyle and Harley Fox in the back row.
Senior players Adeolokun, Stacey Ili and Conor McKeon complete the back-line, while an all-senior front row sees Dominic Robertson-McCoy and JP Cooney flank Ireland international hooker Dave Heffernan with lock Gavin Thornbury partnering Claffey in the engine room.
Senior hooker Pat O’Toole is among the replacements alongside Academy players Conor Kenny, Stephen Kerins and Adam Leavy, an Ireland Sevens international. Sub-Academy out-half Morgan Codyre, Ireland Under-18 international Cian Huxford and Niall Murray, last season’s Connacht Under-18 Player of the Year, complete the bench options.
CONNACHT EAGLES (v Rotherham Titans): Matthew Byrne; Niyi Adeolokun, Stacey Ili, Kieran Joyce, Colm de Buitléar; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney, Gavin Thornbury, Peter Claffey, Naulia Dawai, Paul Boyle, Harley Fox.
Replacements: Pat O’Toole, Conor Kenny, Niall Murray, Cian Huxford, Stephen Kerins, Morgan Codyre, Adam Leavy.