Connacht head coach Andy Friend has named a strong team for Saturday’s United Rugby Championship derby clash with Munster at the Sportsground (kick-off 5.15pm).
There are two changes from the last outing against Leicester Tigers two weeks ago, with the URC’s top try scorer, Mack Hansen, making a welcome return from injury to start on the wing for the first time in a month.
The other change is in the second row where Oisin Dowling comes into the starting XV, combining with Ultan Dillane who is in his final season with the province.
The rest of the selected side is unchanged, meaning Hansen forms a back-three with winger John Porch and experienced full-back Tiernan O’Halloran.
Ireland internationals Kieran Marmion, Jack Carty, who captains the westerners, Bundee Aki and Sam Arnold make up the half-back and centre pairings respectively.
Hooker Dave Heffernan has Matthew Burke and Finlay Bealham alongside him in the front row, while Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver combine with number 8 Jarrad Butler in the loose forwards.
Included on the bench is Academy scrum half Matthew Devine, with the Ballinasloe RFC product named in a professional matchday squad for the first time.
Looking forward to the visit of Johann van Graan’s men, Friend said: “This is obviously a very important game if we’re to achieve our aim of a top four finish in the United Rugby Championship.
“We’ve no game in the competition for a month after this weekend, so it’d be great to have another win under our belt, albeit against a very strong Munster team.
“The last four games between the teams have been decided by a single score, so we’ve to make sure we’re on top of our game for the full 80 minutes and take our chances when they come.”
CONNACHT (v Munster): Tiernan O’Halloran; John Porch, Sam Arnold, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen; Jack Carty (capt), Kieran Marmion; Matthew Burke, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Oisin Dowling, Cian Prendergast, Conor Oliver, Jarrad Butler.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Tietie Tuimauga, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Eoghan Masterson, Abraham Papali’i, Matthew Devine, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Farrell.