A number of key players make a welcome return to the Connacht squad for Sunday’s rescheduled Guinness PRO14 clash with the Ospreys at the Sportsground (kick-off 3pm).
In all there are seven changes to the side that narrowly lost to Munster last time out, with head coach Andy Friend able to recall captain Jarrad Butler and some other experienced players.
Butler rejoins Conor Oliver and Paul Boyle in the back row, in-form duo Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux continue together at lock, and hooker Dave Heffernan returns to the front row, in between Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham.
There is a freshened-up half-back partnership with Ireland international Kieran Marmion combining with Conor Fitzgerald, while centre Peter Robb has been handed his first start of the season after recovering from a long-term groin issue.
Australian flyer John Porch continues at full-back with Alex Wootton and Peter Sullivan on the wings. The bench includes Bundee Aki, who has recovered from a knee injury, and Abraham Papali’i who is back from suspension.
Looking forward to the home encounter with the Welsh side, Friend commented: “It says a lot about the depth we have built here in Connacht that we can make seven changes from an interpro and still field a really strong side.
“A number of players are getting their first starts in a month so will be eager to impress, and with the likes of Bundee and Abraham on the bench we’ll have some physicality to call on when needed.
“I’ve spoken this week about the importance of bringing the same energy for every game, regardless of whether it’s an interpro fixture or not. We’ll put that to the test tomorrow, and after a few disappointing results at home we’re really keen to get back to winning ways here.”
CONNACHT (v Ospreys): John Porch; Peter Sullivan, Tom Daly, Peter Robb, Alex Wootton; Conor Fitzgerald, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Jarrad Butler (capt), Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Conor Kenny, Gavin Thornbury, Abraham Papali’i, Caolin Blade, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy.