Connacht have made three changes from the side defeated in the European Challenge Cup by Leicester for Friday night's Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup tie with Ulster at Kingspan Stadium (8.15pm).
Two changes come in the backs, where Caolin Blade is promoted to the number 9 shirt and Ben O’Donnell is named on the wing. The final change is in the front row where Jordan Duggan starts at loosehead.
The experienced duo of Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham join Duggan in the front row alongside a second row duo of Ultan Dillane and Gavin Thornbury, and a back row consisting of flankers Eoghan Masterson and Conor Oliver, and captain Paul Boyle at number 8. Jack Carty partners Blade at out-half, Tom Daly and Sean O’Brien continue their centre partnership, and winger Matt Healy and full-back John Porch form the back three with O’Donnell.
Head Coach Andy Friend said: “There is still huge disappointment with our Challenge Cup exit and our last few performances, so this is a game where I’m fully expecting a reaction from the players. This is a new competition for us but as with competition we play in, we’re going out to win it. Our team selection reflects that and if we play the way I know we can, we’ll give ourselves a great chance of making a positive start to the Rainbow Cup.”
John Porch, Ben O'Donnell, Sean O'Brien, Tom Daly, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Jordan Duggan, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Conor Oliver, Paul Doyle.
Shane Delahunt, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Niall Murray , Abraham Papali’i, Kieran Marmion, Conor Fitzgerald, Peter Sullivan.