Connacht head coach Andy Friend has announced his team for Friday night’s United Rugby Championship opener away to Cardiff at the Arms Park (kick-off 7.35pm).
After a two-try performance for Connacht Eagles last week, new signing Mack Hansen has been handed his senior debut on the left wing.
Fellow Australian John Porch is named on the other wing, with Clifden man Tiernan O’Halloran operating at full-back.
Tom Farrell starts his first competitive game since November after his serious knee injury, with the 28-year-old named in the centre alongside Tom Daly who makes his 50th appearance for the province.
Ireland internationals Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion, who have played a combined 346 times for Connacht, make up the half-back pairing.
Club captain Jarrad Butler lines out at number 8 alongside flankers Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver, while Oisin Dowling is set for his eighth appearance, partnering Ultan Dillane in the engine room.
The westerners’ starting line-up is completed by hooker Shane Delahunt, who ended last season by becoming a Connacht centurion, and props Matthew Burke and Finlay Bealham.
With Caolin Blade and Colm Reilly both injured, there is a potential debut off the bench for Hubert Gilvarry. The young Sligo RFC scrum half has been integrated into Connacht’s professional set-up the last number of weeks.
Friend commented: “It’s been a really productive pre-season campaign so we’re all looking forward to this United Rugby Championship opener.
“It’s a difficult opening game as Cardiff are always a formidable outfit especially at home, but we’ve prepared in the right way and are confident we can put in a really strong performance.
“Mack Hansen has been very impressive since arriving so fully deserves his first start, and in Hubert Gilvarry we have another Connacht native ready to make his debut if called upon.
“I know his inclusion in the matchday 23 will be a very proud day for all at Sligo RFC and Sligo Grammar School.”
CONNACHT (v Cardiff): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Tom Farrell, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Oisin Dowling, Ultan Dillane, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler (capt).
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Jordan Duggan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Niall Murray, Paul Boyle, Hubert Gilvarry, Conor Fitzgerald, Sam Arnold.