Paul Boyle will captain Connacht for the first time in Saturday's Guinness PRO14 clash against the Ospreys (The Sportsground, 7.35pm, TG4).
The 23-year-old Academy graduate has played 44 times for the province and skipper the side from the number 8 position and will be flanked by Sean O’Brien and Conor Oliver at the back of the scrum. The front five is unchanged from the side that defeat Zebre last Sunday, with Shane Delahunt starting at hooker alongside props Denis Buckley and Jack Aungier, and Eoghan Masterson pairing up with Gavin Thornbury in the second row.
Colm Reilly continues at scrum-half, while Conor Fitzgerald comes in for his second start of the season at out-half. The in-form Tom Daly remains at inside-centre with Sammy Arnold alongside him, and Peter Sullivan returns to the starting XV in a back three which features Alex Wootton on the opposite wing and John Porch at full-back.
Head Coach Andy Friend said: Paul Boyle is a natural born leader and fully deserves the opportunity to lead out the squad for the first time. He’s been in tremendous form for us again this season and I’d like to congratulate him on the honour. We’ve also got Academy player Sean O’Brien potentially making his debut so it’s a big day for him too if called upon.