Pool two leaders Connacht face an onerous task away to a fancied Exeter in this afternoon’s second European Challenge Cup fixture.
Pat Lam’s players are expecting a backlash from the English Premiership side who lost away to Bayonne last weekend.
Lam has made eight changes from the side which defeated La Rochelle last weekend, as he also keeps a eye on planning for a return to Pro12 action against the Ospreys next weekend.
Loosehead prop Denis Buckley joins tighthead Nathan White, who has been named captain, in the front row, while the competition’s highest capped player Michael Swift and Mick Kearney are partnered in the second row. Andrew Browne makes his first start for rested captain John Muldoon in the back row where George Naoupu replaces Eoin McKeon.
Niyi Adeolokun, Dave McSharry and Ian Porter are named in a backline, which sees Craig Ronaldson move from centre to out-half.
Lam says the availability of Swift, Kearney and Browne “brings size to the pack, while also allowing some players to rest”.
He continued: “Exeter are flying high in the Premiership. They have strong culture and are a group of guys who work hard and we can see that in the analysis. So it’s one hardworking group going up against another in their home ground.”
Currently third in the premiership where they boast the highest number of points scored, Exeter will be favourites. The Chiefs have selected a powerful squad including Scottish international Moray Low and winger Jack Nowell, the club’s sole player in Stuart Lancaster’s 33-man England squad for the autumn internationals.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved