Carolan goes with youth policy in B&I Cup opener
Far away from Siberia where the senior team begin their Challenge Cup campaign, Connacht Eagles host Dragons Select in the more familiar and indeed warmer surrounds of the Sportsground this afternoon (2.30).
Nigel Carolan has named a youthful side with former Leinster second-row Ben Marshall the only senior player included on his return from injury.
Captain Conor McKeon was the star of the show last week when the Eagles beat Leinster and he will be hoping to build on his performance in which he kicked an impressive 23 points.
Full-back Ciaran Gaffney is another with a big reputation and he will be eager to show what he is capable of with ball in hand.
Up front, Cian Romaine has impressed with the Ireland U-20s under Carolan and he partners Marshall in the second-row.
Connacht won just one of their six pool games in the competition last year and they will look to start on the front foot against a Dragons Select for whom this is their first appearance in the tournament.
Hooker Hugh Gustafson will skipper the Dragons Select who also include senior players such as Geraint Rhys Jones, Angus O'Brien, Luc Jones and James Benjamin.
Connacht Eagles have disappointed in the past but they impressed enough against Leinster 'A' to suggest that they can make home advantage count.
International Rugby Newsletter
Connacht Eagles - C Gaffney; A Leavy, C Brennan, E O'Keefe, J Keegan; C McKeon (capt), C Lowndes; J Walshe, P O'Toole, S Meunargia; C Romaine, B Marshall; M Kelly, R Moloney, S McVeigh. Reps: J Dinneen, M Burke, P Claffey, C Gallagher, S Kerins, A Moynihan, S Keller.