Ah You in for White as Connacht prepare for ‘biggest challenge so far’

Rodney Ah You takes over injured Nathan White’s tighthead prop spot, having been released from the Ireland camp at Carton House, for Connacht’s Guinness Pro12 fixture with leaders Ospreys in Swansea this evening (7.35pm).

John Muldoon, Quinn Roux and Eoin McKeon, having been rested last weekend, return to action in a game marked by a first cap for new signing Bundi Aki.

The former Chief is named in the centre in the absence of Robbie Henshaw, partnering Craig Ronaldson. Scrum-half Kieran Marmion, also released from the international training camp, winger Matt Healy and outhalf Jack Carty are recalled to the starting XV, while full-back Shane Layden makes his second start of the season.

“We’ve made a good few changes this week,” says Connacht coach Lam, “but with injuries and international call-ups, we believe we have the strongest squad possible.

“It is our biggest challenge of the season so far. We know we will have to raise our standards considerably from last week, particularly in defence.”

With a six-day turnaround Connacht have their work cut out for them against an Ospreys side that leads the Pro 12.

Although missing players currently involved in Warren Gatland’s Wales XV, coach Steve Tandy still has considerable talent at his disposal and they remain hot favourites to continue their unbeaten run at home since January.

Meanwhile, Wales international prop Paul James will rejoin Ospreys next season from Aviva Premiership club Bath.

The Ospreys have confirmed a two-year deal for James, who left the Welsh region for Bath in 2012.

James, 32, has won 55 caps and is part of the Wales squad for next month’s Tests against Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa.

James made 180 appearances for the Ospreys during a nine-year stint with them before moving to Bath. And the Ospreys’ swoop bucks a recent trend of top players heading out of Wales.

Ten member of Wales coach Warren Gatland’s current squad play their club rugby in either England or France.

“A lot has changed at the Ospreys since I was last part of the set-up, but the team has started the season well and has impressed me,” James said.

“I’ve had a great few years at Bath. I have really settled in well and the club has been great to me, so I want to finish on a high there this season before I head home for the next chapter.”

Ospreys chief executive Andrew Hore added: “Although circumstances dictated we have lost players over the last few years that we didn’t want to release, we have always clearly said when the business was on a more stable footing we would look to bring selected personnel back to the region, and this is what we have done with Paul.”

CONNACHT: S Layden, N Adeolokun, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy, J Carty, K Marmion, D Buckley J Harris-Wright, R Ah You, M Kearny, Q Roux, J Muldoon (cpt), E McKeon, G Naoupu.

Replacements: D Heffernan, J Dever, JP Cooney, A Browne, W Faloon, I Porter, D McSharry, D Leader.

OSPREYS: D Evans, J Hassler, A Bishop, J Matavesi, T Graham, S Davies, M Roberts, D Jones, S Perry, A Jarvis L Peers (cpt), R Bernardo, S Lewis, J Tipuric, I Jones.

the west country, S Otten, M Thomas, D Arhip, R Thornton, J Collier, T Habberfield, A Beck, A Natoga.

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