Connacht, with only a win in their opening day fixture, will need everything to go right for them if they are to record only their second victory against the Welsh outfit since 2008.
Their chances have not been helped by injuries to key players, openside Willie Faloon and hooker Jason Harris-Wright. Coach Pat Lam has handed starts to young former junior All Black captain Jake Heenan, Andrew Browne and Sean Henry comes in at hooker.
Lansdowne’s Craig Ronaldson gets the nod ahead of former Scottish international Dan Parks while Danie Poolman is on the right wing for Fionn Carr.
“Ospreys present another big challenge for us,” says Lam. “They are four-times league champions, are undefeated this season, and boast Lions and Welsh internationals. It’s a massive game and another step up.”
In a pack that boasts over 260 international caps, Ospreys coach Steve Tandy is giving Lions star Justin Tiperic his first start this season.
Ospreys will see tonight’s game as a chance for another five-pointer, but one of Connacht’s strengths has been its defence. The battle up front could well be decisive.
CONNACHT: G Duffy; D Poolman, R Henshaw, E Griffin, M Healy; C Ronaldson, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, S Henry, N White; M Swift (cpt), C Clarke; A Browne, J Heenan, J Muldoon.
Replacements: J Rael, R Ah You, R Loughney, A Muldowney, FG Naoupu, P O’Donohoe, D Parks, F Carr.
OSPREYS: R Fussell, J Hassler, B John, A Beck, E Walker, D Biggar, T Tebaldi, D Jones, S Baldwin, A Jones, A Wyn-Jones (cpt), I Evans, J King, J Tiperic, M Allen.
Replacements: R Hibbard, R Bevinton, A Jarvis, T Ardron, J Bearman, T Habberfield, M Morgan J Spratt.