Ireland trio released to take their place on the bench for Connacht against Dragons
Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made three personnel changes from the starting XV that defeated Scarlets in the last round of PRO12 action before the break for the trip to Rodney Parade to face the Dragons tomorrow night.
AJ MacGinty will make his fifth start in a Connacht jersey this season, replacing the injured Jack Carty at outhalf. Meanwhile, Bundee Aki shifts to outside centre to facilitate the introduction of Craig Ronaldson in the number 12 shirt and the only change to the pack sees Rodney Ah You come in to the front row.
Prop Finlay Bealham, lock Ultan Dillane and Ireland scrumhalf Kieran Marmion have all been released today by Joe Schmidt to join up with the Connacht squad for tomorrow’s round 14 clash.
Galway-born back row Eoin McKeon has returned from injury to earn a place on the bench while Academy centre Peter Robb is named among the substitute backs.
Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said: “With a short week for us in terms of preparation and travel, we began our planning for Dragons before the break and the boys returned on Monday refreshed and eager to get back into their work.
"It’s great to have Kieran (Marmion) Finlay (Bealham) and Ultan (Dillane) back from Irish camp for this game but given that they haven’t trained with us this week, they will add impact from the bench.
“The Dragons are in good form and are playing some great team rugby. It’s clear for us to see that they are a different side to the one we faced at the Sportsground in round 1.
"They have already beaten our fellow Irish provinces Munster and Leinster at Rodney Parade and were desperately unlucky to lose in the final minute to Ulster in Belfast last week. So we are under no illusions as to how tough the challenge will be in Newport, and in tough conditions.
"Once again our focus will be on our team work and work ethic on and off the ball to enable us to put in a performance that will continue to keep us in the top four of the competition."
Connacht team to face the Dragons: (15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Matt Healy, AJ MacGinty, Caolin Blade; (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Rodney Ah You, George Naoupu, Aly Muldowney, John Muldoon (c), Jake Heenan, Eoghan Masterson.
Replacements: (16-23) Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Kieran Marmion, Peter Robb, Rory Parata.