Kieran Marmion, Tom Daly and Eoghan Masterson have been brought into the Connacht team for Saturday’s hugely-anticipated United Rugby Championship derby against Ulster at the Aviva Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm).
Their inclusions are the only changes to the side that put in an impressive performance against Munster last week, with out-half Jack Carty again captaining the westerners.
Daly partners Sam Arnold in the centre, with Bundee Aki being monitored for a knee injury. He is expected to return to full training next week with the Ireland squad.
The back-three is again made up of wingers Mack Hansen and John Porch, along with full-back Tiernan O’Halloran who is set for his 195th appearance for his native province.
Connacht’s tight five is unchanged, a front row of Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham, supported by recently-turned 22-year-old Niall Murray and Ultan Dillane in the engine room.
Eoghan Masterson is a direct replacement for ankle injury victim Cian Prendergast on the blindside flank, with Conor Oliver and number 8 Paul Boyle alongside them.
The Connacht coaches have gone back to a 5-3 split on the bench, with Conor Fitzgerald coming back into the matchday squad. Also missing out are Leva Fifita (knee) and Tom Farrell, who is out for eight weeks with a shoulder joint issue.
Head coach Andy Friend commented: “We’ve been looking forward to tomorrow for a long time. The opportunity to return to the Aviva Stadium, but this time with thousands of Connacht supporters behind us, is something we’re all incredibly excited about.
“The importance of this fixture is not lost on us either. So far this season the performances have been good but the results haven’t matched up to that.
“Now we have to give absolutely everything to make sure we end this block of URC fixtures on a winning note.”
CONNACHT (v Ulster): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sam Arnold, Tom Daly, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Niall Murray, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Oisin Dowling, Jarrad Butler, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Diarmuid Kilgallen.