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Ireland call-ups cause Lam to shuffle Connacht pack

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Darragh Leader

Darragh Leader

SPORTSFILE

Darragh Leader

Connacht's expanding international contingent will have its last chance to impress Joe Schmidt this weekend when they go in search of a second Challenge Cup win away to the Exeter Chiefs in Sandy Park on Saturday.

Darragh Leader, 21, was the surprise call-up to Schmidt's squad along with Nathan White, Kieran Marmion, Robbie Henshaw and Rodney Ah You and according to coach Pat Lam, the quintet will be unavailable to him after this weekend's clash.

All five will link up with the Ireland squad ahead of the first November series test with South Africa on November 8, while the Exeter game is the first of two away games in a six day period for Connacht.

"That is part of our planning as well, those who might not be here next week and that all goes into how we managed this week," said Lam. "We have a smaller squad than everyone else and it is also complicated by guys who are unavailable, guys who are injured.

"It's not just the six-day turnaround that's tough, it's the first time we've had two away games in six days.

"All I can guarantee is the 15 that start this week won't be the same 15 the following week."

Meanwhile new signing Bundee Aki is still on course to make his debut against the Ospreys in the Liberty Stadium on October 31.

The 24-year-old hasn't yet trained with the squad having arrived in Ireland on Monday and Lam believes he will need to see him in action before he can make a judgement over his availability for next week's crunch Pro12 fixture.

"Bundee arrived on Monday, he is just getting over jet lag and will come through and be available hopefully for next week.

"We will just see how it unfolds for him and how quickly he picks things up and then consider whether he is available or not so there is still a question mark.

"We hope so (that he would be available next week), we will just see how he settles and that and how he picks everything up and then we will make a decision then," said Lam.

Irish Independent