Lam names two new caps in settled Connacht side to face Dragons

There are few surprises in Pat Lam’s Connacht squad for this evening’s Guinness Pro 12 opener at the Galway Sportsground (7.30pm).

With a settled squad and no big-name signing, there are just two new caps in the staring line-up to face the Newport Gwent Dragons with Academy and New Zealand-born Rory Parata named in the centre, and Nepia Fox-Matamua in the backrow..

Lam always planned to be without centre Robbie Henshaw on Ireland World Cup duty, but he had not bargained for new signing Api Pewhairangi, sidelined for up to four months, Dave McSharry, Darragh Leader and Niyi Adeolokun to be missing also.

As a result, he has promoted Academy centre Rory Parata to partner Bundee Aki in midfield.

Also missing Nathan White in Joe Schmidt’s squad, Lam will be delighted scrum-half Kieran Marmion is back to renew his halfback partnership with Jack Carty. Lam is confident his young squad has matured as he enters his third year at the Sportsground, and he is counting on a solid pre-season to ensure Connacht make the best possible start in their bid for a top-six finish and Champions Cup qualification.

Last season Connacht achieved more wins than previous seasons, but failed to qualify for Champions Cup rugby. A couple of defeats proved costly in games they should have put away, and Lam knows the margins will be tight again.

They boast a strong record against the visiting Dragons, who have made some astute signings, non more so than S African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius.

Connacht:

T O’Halloran, D Poolman, R Parata, B Aki, M Healy, J Carty, K Marmion, D Buckley, T McCartney, R Ah You, Q Roux, A Browne, J Muldoon (captain), N Fox-Matamua, E Masterson. Replacements

: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, F Bealham, B Marshall, E McKeon, J Cooney, C Ronaldson, F Carr

Dragons:

C Meyer, T Prydie, R Wardle, A Warren, N Scott, J Tovey, S Pretorius; B Stankovich, T Rhys Thomas (cpt), S Knight, C Hill, R Landman, N Crosswell, N Cudd, E Jackson. .


Lifestyle

A parent coach says parents are often the best judge of how to care for their baby – and explains how they can learn to have faith in their intuition.Ask an expert: How can I know what’s best for my baby?

We take a trip down memory lane and check out what happened on this day in years gone by by looking back at some Irish Examiner front pages and highlighting other events which went down in history across the world.August 23, 2019: A look back at what happened on this day in years gone by

Romantic florals to 1970s chic, fun femininity to gothic grunge —we showcase the top autumn/winter looks at Brown Thomas, with a focus on the most exciting and diverse designer labels.Coming at you: The top autumn/winter looks at Brown Thomas

RP O’Donnell says it is hard to find anywhere better than Boston to show your family a great time as he returns to a city he used to call homeA family friendly holiday guide to get the best out of beautiful Boston

More From The Irish Examiner