Poolman’s timely return

Former Stormer Danie Poolman makes a timely first start for Connacht against Italian visitors Benetton Treviso at the Galway Sportsground today (5pm).

The South African came on as a replacement last week against the Ospreys but with Mata Fafita and Eoin Griffin ruled out, Poolman’s recovery is a much-needed boost for Erc Elwood’s side.

Poolman, who partners a fit-again Dave McSharry, is one of six changes for tonight’s final Pro 12 fixture before the break for the autumn internationals, and good news also is the return from Irish training camp of both Mike McCarthy and Tiernan O’Halloran. Robbie Henshaw moves back to fullback, while captain Gavin Duffy returns from injury to take his place on the bench.

Up front Denis Buckley returns to the front-row, McCarthy resumes his partnership with Michael Swift, while in the backrow flanker Andrew Browne makes only his second start of the season, joining Johnny O’Connor and Eoin McKeon, who continues at number eight in the absence of George Naoupu.

Connacht know this a game they must win.

Elwood: “We are certainly putting pressure on ourselves to take the four points against Treviso. This is our last in a series of 10 games on the bounce and we want to finish it on a high. Although we have not had the ideal preparations this week, it’s a game we would have targeted. We know it’s a game they will be targeting and we will certainly have to take the game to them. We need to be physical and work hard to grind out a win.”

Treviso won the corresponding fixture last year 15-13 and arrive in Galway on the back of a 13-24 loss to the Glasgow Warriors.

CONNACHT: R Henshaw, T O’Halloran, D Poolman, D McSharry, F Vainikolo, D Parks, K Marmion, D Buckley, J Harris-Wright, N White (cpt), M Swift, M McCarthy, A Browne, J O’Connor, E McKeon.

Replacements: A Flavin, R Ah You, R Loughney, J Muldoon, M Kearney, D Moore, M Nikora, G Duffy.

BENETTON TREVISO: B Williams, A Vik, C Loamanu, A Pratichetti, A Esposito, A Di Bernardo, F Semenzato, M Muccignat, F Sbaraglini, J Roux, M Fuser, C Van Zyl (cpt), M Vosawai, V Bernabo, M Filipucci.

Replacements: E Ceccato, A De Marchi, I Fernandez-Rouyet, G Maistri, E Targa, G Toniolati, J Amrbosini, L Morisi.

Referee: L Hodges (Wales).

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