Youth fills in for experience when Connacht try to halt an 11-year losing run in Wales to the Ospreys.
Coach Pat Lam has made five personnel changes for today’s Pro12 fixture at Liberty Stadium (1.30pm) with 24-year-old fullback Tiernan O’Halloran handed the captaincy for the first time as John Muldoon moves to the bench.
Eoghan Masterson comes in to the back row, Darragh Leader makes his first start of the season and 21-year-old Academy hooker Shane Delahunt is named in the front row.
Connacht have never won at Liberty Stadium — the one and only victory against the Ospreys in Wales was at the Knoll in 2004 — while they picked up a rare home victory against today’s opponents three seasons ago at the Sportsground.
However, if Connacht want to maintain their top four slot during this World Cup period, there may not be a better time to post a second win in 14 encounters over the Neath-Swansea outfit.
“It’s been a long time since we won there, but the only way we can change that is by doing our jobs,” says Lam. “We always said we would have to rely on our full squad in this busy block of games, and we’ve made some changes this week as planned. A win there is well overdue and we know if we stick to our structures and play as a team for 80 plus minutes, we will have a good chance. ”
Ospreys have not enjoyed the best start to the season, recording their first win away to Treviso last weekend, but they have included Eli Walker and flanker James King in the starting XV, with fellow Wales World Cup players Paul James, Justin Tipuric, and Aaron Jarvis in the replacements.
T O’Halloran (cpt), D Leader, B Aki, C Ronaldson, M Healy, J Carty, K Marmion, D Buckley, S Delahunt, R Ah You, Q Roux, A Muldowney, E KcKeon, N Fox-Matamua, E Masterson.
D Heffernan, C O’Donnell, F Bealham, U Dillane, J Muldoon, I Porter, R Parata, N Adeolokun.
R Fussell, T Grabham, B John J Matavesi, E Walker, S Davies, B Leonard, R Bevington, S Perry, A Arhip, L Ashley (cpt), R Thornton, J King, S Underhill, D Baker.
S Otten, P James, A Jarvis, R Bernardo, J Bearman, J Tipuric, T Habberfield, D Parker.
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