Captain Jarrad Butler has returned from injury to take his place in the Connacht team to face Ulster at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).
Jarrad Butler is one of four changes to the Connacht side that lost 20-3 to Leinster in Galway last weekend. Academy player Paul Boyle, who was man-of-the-match against Zebre last month, also comes into the back row to start at number 8.
There is one alteration in the front row as Tom McCartney starts at hooker in place of the injured Dave Heffernan who captained the team last time out. The remainder of the front five is unchanged with props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham both retained as is Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux in the engine room.
Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion continue their half-back partnership as do Bundee Aki and Tom Farrell in midfield. Matt Healy, who was a late withdrawal before the Leinster game, returns from injury on the left wing, with Niyi Adeolokun, who has scored three tries so far this season, on the right and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
Speaking about the interprovincial derby in round 6 of the GUINNESS PRO14, Connacht head coach Andy Friend said: “Both sides had tough games last weekend, us against Leinster and Ulster against Munster. Both sides will be trying to recover from the six-day turnaround and that is the challenge in these big games.
“This week involved reviewing the game last week and fine-tuning things from last weekend so we are ready to go for Friday. It is great to have our captain Jarrad back and one or two other guys who were returning from small knocks. We are expecting a massive challenge from a real quality Ulster side.”
Meanwhile, Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have taken the decision, following contact with Sevu Reece in relation to the circumstances of a recent court appearance, not to proceed with a contract for the 21-year-old Fijian back to play with the province. Connacht and the IRFU will make no further comment.
CONNACHT (v Ulster): Tiernan O’Halloran; Niyi Adeolokun, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Sean O’Brien, Jarrad Butler (capt), Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Colby Fainga’a, Caolin Blade, Kyle Godwin, Cian Kelleher.