HAVING only been handed his first professional contract during the close-season, 27-year-old Brian Murphy will make his competitive debut for Connacht tonight as they travel to take on the Cardiff Blues in the Pro12 League.
After missing out on a place in the Connacht Academy as a youngster, a full-time career in the game seemed to have passed him by.
However, Murphy – who has also lined out with Shrule-Glencorrib in the Mayo football championship – was picked up from Galwegians at the end of last season after a promising campaign that saw him win the Connacht AIL player of the season award, despite the club's relegation from Division 1B.
An injury ruled the Galway-born centre out of much of the early part of the season, but with Dave McSharry (groin) and Kyle Tonetti (shoulder) unavailable, he has been given the nod for the trip to Wales (kick-off 7.30).
Murphy's inclusion is one of four changes from the side that beat the Ospreys last week.
Skipper Gavin Duffy starts at full-back as Robbie Henshaw remains with the national squad.
Fetu'u Vainikolo replaces Tiernan O'Halloran on the wing, while Andrew Browne comes in for Mick Kearney in the second-row.
CARDIFF BLUES – C Czekaj; O Williams, R Smith, G Evans (c), H Robinson; R Patchell, L Jones; T Filise, K Dacey, B Bourrust; M Cook, J Down; M Paterson, R Watts-Jones, R Copeland. Reps: R Williams, N Trevett, S Andrews, L Hamilton, T Young, L Davies, C Sweeney, J Tovey.
CONNACHT – G Duffy; D Poolman, E Griffin, B Murphy, F Vainkolo; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White; M Swift, A Browne; J Muldoon, W Faloon, E McKeon. Reps: E Reynecke, D Buckley, R Loughney, M Kearney, TJ Anderson, P O'Donohoe, M Nikora, M Jarvis.
REF – D Phillips (IRFU)