Connacht head coach Kieran Keane has named his starting XV to face Conference A rivals Cardiff Blues in the Welsh capital on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).
Connacht go into the GUINNESS PRO14 round 9 fixture without Ireland internationals Bundee Aki, Kieran Marmion and Ultan Dillane, while Jarrad Butler and Craig Ronaldson remain on the injury list.
Niyi Adeoloukun, who scored a decisive try in his first start of the season against the Toyota Cheetahs, starts again on the wing. Matt Healy, who comes in on the left wing, and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran complete the back-three.
Eoin Griffin and Tom Farrell make up the centre pairing and while there is no starting position for new signing Pita Ahki, the former New Zealand Under-20 and Sevens international is named among the replacements.
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade form the half-back pairing with Marmion unavailable due to his involvement with the Ireland squad. In the pack, Dave Heffernan slots in at hooker with Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham in at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively.
Quinn Roux and James Cannon are retained as the province’s starting second rows, while fit-again flanker Jake Heenan, who is set to leave Connacht at the end of the season, joins Eoin McKeon and captain John Muldoon in the back row.
With four successive wins in all competitions, out-half Carty says Connacht need to maintain consistency in the next few games. “Over the last few games we have managed to get the results we have needed,” he explained. “Our focus now is on consistency away to Cardiff and next week against Zebre, that’s what we need to deliver.
“We need to put in the performances now to put ourselves in a strong position later in the season. We were beaten by Cardiff earlier in the season, but we will not be focusing on that. We will be concentrating on ourselves and our own game.”
CONNACHT (v Cardiff Blues): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, Steve Crosbie, Pita Ahki.