Saturday 1 October 2016

Pat Lam shuffles his deck for Connacht's away day at Zebre

Published 19/02/2016 | 12:23

Connacht's Kieran Marmion returns to the starting XV
Connacht's Kieran Marmion returns to the starting XV

Connacht coach Pat Lam has made five changes to the side that earned a bonus point victory over the Dragons for Saturday's trip to second from bottom Zebre.

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Ireland scrum half Kieran Marmion returns to fold to partner AJ MacGinty at half back, while tight head Finlay Bealham has also been released from international duty to take his place in the front row alongside Denis Buckley and Tom McCartney.

Ben Marshall has returned from the arm injury that has kept him sidelined since November to start in the second row alongside Aly Muldowney.

Galway-born Eoin McKeon is promoted from the bench to wear the number 8 jersey in a back row with Jake Heenan and captain John Muldoon.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Pat Lam said:

“As we head away on one of the longer away trips in the PRO12 schedule, it was great to have some of our Irish boys back from camp to train with us as well as a few guys coming off the injured list.

“We’ve been over to play Zebre a fair few times in the last couple of years between PRO12 and Europe and they’ve always challenged us, particularly up front. There’s no doubt they will be fired up to make amends for their big defeat to Leinster last week. We’ve seen what they can do to teams this season, particulary on their home ground, so we will need to be right on top of our game mentally .

“While it’s extremely tight at the top end of the table, we are solely focused on the quality of our performance tomorrow to get the points on offer in what will be another tough test on the road.”

Connacht team to face Zebre, Saturday February 20, 5:30pm (local time)

15            Tiernan O’Halloran
14            Niyi Adeolokun
13            Bundee Aki
12            Craig Ronaldson
11            Matt Healy
10            AJ MacGinty
9               Kieran Marmion

1               Denis Buckley
2               Tom McCartney
3               Finlay Bealham
4               Ben Marshall
5               Aly Muldowney
6               John Muldoon (captain)
7               Jake Heenan
8               Eoin McKeon

Replacements:

16            Dave Heffernan
17            Ronan Loughney
18            Rodney Ah You
19            George Naoupu
20            Eoghan Masterson
21            Caolin Blade
22            Peter Robb
23            Danie Poolman

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