Winger Niyi Adeolokun will make his first start of the season for Connacht when they take on the Toyota Cheetahs in Saturday’s GUINNESS PRO14 encounter at the Sportsground (kick-off 7.35pm).
Niyi Adeolokun, who turns 27 today, joins Tiernan O’Halloran and Darragh Leader in the back-three, both of whom started the interprovincial derby win over Munster last weekend.
With three players away on international duty, Caolin Blade starts at scrum half, Craig Ronaldson comes in at inside centre and Quinn Roux starts in the second row as Connacht look to make it four wins on the trot in all competitions.
Eoghan Masterson slots back in at blindside flanker, Eoin McKeon starts at openside and captain John Muldoon wears the number 8 jersey. Fijian flanker Naulia Dawai, also returning from injury, is back in the matchday 23 as he takes his place among the replacements.
Ronaldson forms a centre partnership with fellow former Lansdowne clubman Tom Farrell who scored the decisive try against Munster in round 7. Looking forward to lining out against the Cheetahs, Farrell spoke of the need to get a result against the South Africans before going into the two-week break for the November internationals.
“We have been steadily improving since the start of the season and we put together back-to-back wins in Europe and followed that up with a win against Munster last weekend. The atmosphere was fantastic in the Sportsground and the lift that the fans gave us made all the difference,” he said.
“But we will need to repeat that performance if we are to beat the Cheetahs on Saturday and go into the break with four wins in a row.”
CONNACHT (v Toyota Cheetahs): Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Tom Farrell, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Denis Coulson, Conor Carey, Gavin Thornbury, Naulia Dawai, Conor McKeon, Steve Crosbie, Matt Healy.