Centre Peter Robb has returned from a leg operation to take his place in the Connacht Eagles starting XV to face Richmond in the British & Irish Cup on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 3pm).
Craig Ronaldson, who reintegrated back into full training in the past week, is included among the replacements as Connacht Eagles, who are bottom of Pool 4, take on the second-placed side at the Athletic Ground.
The Connacht Eagles team includes a mix of youth and experience. In the back row, Academy players Sean Masterson and Paul Boyle, who impressed for Corinthians and Buccaneers respectively last week in the Ulster Bank League, both feature along with Fijian blindside Naulia Dawai. Boyle is the team captain.
Mayo native Pat O’Toole continues at hooker where he is flanked by Conan O’Donnell at loosehead prop and Conor Kenny at tighthead. The Eagles’ front row reserves include Sligo youngster Kuba Woitjowicz who was the Division 2C Player of the Year and the Ulster Bank Provinicial Player of the Year for Connacht last season.
In all, Connacht Eagles head coach Mossy Lawler has made six personnel changes and four positional switches to the team that went down 71-14 to Ealing Trailfinders last time out in October. Ireland Sevens international Adam Leavy and the fit-again Peter Robb come into a back-line led by half-backs Andrew Deegan and Conor McKeon.
Props O’Donnell and Kenny, along with Masterson and Ireland Under-18 talent Cian Huxford, are the four new inclusions in the pack. Huxford, who captained the Connacht Under-19s this season, is more known as a flanker but he will join Gavin Thornbury in a new-look second row.
CONNACHT EAGLES (v Richmond): Matthew Byrne; Adam Leavy, Kieran Joyce, Peter Robb, Stacey Ili; Andrew Deegan, Conor McKeon; Conan O’Donnell, Pat O’Toole, Conor Kenny, Cian Huxford, Gavin Thornbury, Naulia Dawai, Sean Masterson, Paul Boyle (capt).
Replacements: Callum Torpey, Denis Coulson, Jakub Woitjowicz, Dylan Tierney, Caolin Blade, Steve Crosbie, Craig Ronaldson.