Eric Elwood has named uncapped scrum-half Kieran Marmion in his starting XV for the visit of the Cardiff Blues in the opening round of the RaboDirect PRO12 tomorrow at the Sportsground (5pm).
Marmion started in the pre-season friendly against Harlequins and also played for Ireland at the IRB Junior World Championship, starting four of their five games en route to a highest ever finish of fifth.
Gavin Duffy will lead his side out, having been announced as captain for a second year running. Duffy is supported on the wings by last season regulars Fetu'u Vainikolo and Tiernan O'Halloran while the dynamic centre partnership of Mata Fifita and Eoin Griffin complete the backline.
Another regular from last season is out half Miah Nikora who got a good run out in both pre-season friendlies in August.
Connacht have plenty of experience amongst the starting forwards. John Muldoon, Mike McCarthy, and Johnny O'Connor have almost 450 caps between them while Michael Swift holds the record with this his 220th cap for the Province.
Ronan Loughney, with 105 caps, provides plenty more experience with George Naoupu , Denis Buckley and Ethienne Reynecke completing the firepower of the forwards.
Both Connacht and Cardiff Blues will be looking to claim opening day wins for the third consecutive year.
It's been a summer of change for Cardiff Blues with a number of senior players such as Martyn Williams, Xavier Rush and Deiniol Jones retiring from the game and a new exciting crop of youngsters coming through.
Connacht (v Cardiff Blues): G Duffy; T O’Halloran, E Griffin, M Fifita, F Vainikolo; M Nikora, K Marmion; D Buckley, E Reynecke, R Loughney; M Swift, M McCarthy; J Muldoon; J O’Connor, G Naoupu.
Replacements: A Flavin, R Ah You, F Bealham, D Gannon, W Faloon, D Moore, M Jarvis, R Henshaw.