Mack Hansen returns to the Connacht team for Friday’s festive derby match against provincial rivals Ulster at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm).
The Ireland international missed last weekend’s Investec Champions Cup game against Saracens through injury, but is available again as Connacht are back in BKT United Rugby Championship action.
He starts at full-back with Shayne Bolton and Byron Ralston on the wings. Including Hansen, there are seven changes to the side that lost 55-36 to Saracens in Barnet.
It is all change in the front row with double centurion Denis Buckley, Tadgh McElroy and Finlay Bealham packing down together.
Joe Joyce partners Darragh Murray in the second row, while Shamus Hurley-Langton and Sean O’Brien join the in-form Cian Prendergast in the loose forwards.
Commenting ahead of the interprovincial clash, head coach Pete Wilkins said: “Interpro weeks always create a special buzz around the Connacht squad, and an away game in Belfast is no different.
“Ulster will be high on confidence after their European win last week and will be relishing another game at home, but we are fully aware of what it takes to compete against them in that environment and everyone is looking forward to the game.
“We have selected a matchday 23 that has enough consistency to build on the positives within our Saracens performance, whilst providing enough freshness to deliver the type of energy and physicality that plays such an important role in these types of encounters.”
CONNACHT (v Ulster): Mack Hansen; Shayne Bolton, Tom Farrell, Bundee Aki, Byron Ralston; Jack Carty (capt), Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tadgh McElroy, Finlay Bealham, Darragh Murray, Joe Joyce, Cian Prendergast, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Sean O’Brien.
Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Peter Dooley, Jack Aungier, Gavin Thornbury, Conor Oliver, Michael McDonald, JJ Hanrahan, Shane Jennings.