Tuesday 26 September 2017

Pat Lam makes five changes for Glasgow trip

Connacht head coach Pat Lam is glad to have the experience of Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion in his team this week. Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Connacht head coach Pat Lam is glad to have the experience of Robbie Henshaw and Kieran Marmion in his team this week. Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five changes to the team that beat Leinster 10-9 last week for the trip to Scotsun to face the Glasgow Warriors tomorrow (kick-off 7.35pm).

In his first appearance of the season, Michael Swift, who is Connacht and the PRO12's most-capped player, comes in for Quinn Roux in the province's second row.

Tighthead prop Rodney Ah You and number 8 George Naoupu will also earn their first starts of the season in an altered pack after both coming on from the bench in all three previous games.

Galway man Eoin McKeon moves to openside flanker this week and joins Robbie Henshaw in marking his 50th appearance for Connacht this weekend.

Danie Poolman has recovered from the illness that forced him to withdraw last week, taking his place on the right wing with Matt Healy shifting over to the left side. New scrum half Ian Porter joins Jack Carty at half-back.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Head Coach Pat Lam said: "It's been three physical games so far and we've made very few changes until now. Glasgow is likely to be one of our most physical clashes of the season so it's the right time to bring in fresh legs and welcome in the experience up front of guys like George, Rodney and especially Swifty who has been raring to go for a few weeks now. The impact that Mick (Kearney) and Quinn (Roux) can provide from the bench is also very important.

"Willie (Faloon) took part in training this week after the Leinster game but with our options depleted at seven, we want to give him a break and the chance to ensure he's 100pc come the following week.

"The same goes with the changes in the backs with Niyi (Adeolokun) and Kieran (Marmion). Niyi needs a break to recover and Kieran has played a lot of rugby over the last two seasons and has naturally taken a few knocks along the way. It's important that we manage his game time to ensure that he has the best opportunity to perform at the highest level throughout the season. We have full faith in our new scrumhalf recruits Ian (Porter) and John (Cooney) who have really embraced the Connacht culture and are excited about taking their opportunity this week.

"As a team, we are happy with our progress but we know ourselves that there is a lot of work to be done and, at the end of the day, we have won three games. It's a long season ahead. We go into tomorrow's game just one point behind Glasgow, but there is no doubt that this will be one of our toughest games of the season. With Gregor Townsend, Glasgow are a well-coached side and, as we have seen, not many teams can go to Scotstoun and take a win from them. But we have taken a lot of encouragement from the last three tight games and once again we will be fully focussed on the process of playing as a team for this huge challenge."

CONNACHT (v Glasgow Warriors): Darragh Leader; Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, David McSharry, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Ian Porter; Denis Buckley, David Heffernan, Rodney Ah You, Michael Swift, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (capt), Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Ronan Loughney, Nathan White, Quinn Roux, Michael Kearney, John Cooney, Craig Ronaldson, Fionn Carr.

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