In-form Connacht have named their team to play Cardiff Blues
Connacht coach Pat Lam has made eight changes from the team that beat Munster last weekend for their Pro12 clash with Cardiff Blues tomorrow night.
Darragh Leader comes on to the right wing for his 50th Connacht appearance while Tiernan O'Halloran shifts to fullback. Jack Carty is named at outhalf and scrum half Ian Porter earns his first PRO12 start of the season.
There is a new front row with the introduction of Ronan Loughney, Dave Heffernan and Rodney Ah You while Quinn Roux returns from injury to partner Aly Muldowney in the second row.
Captain John Muldoon becomes the first player to break the 200-cap barrier in the PRO12 when he leads the side out in the Welsh capital tomorrow night. The Galway man, who turned 33 on Monday, is named in the back row with Academy flanker James Connolly and the returning Number 8 Eoin McKeon.
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Both Jason Harris-Wright and Conan O'Donnell are named among the front row replacements. Academy backs Peter Robb and Rory Parata are also named on the bench, the former in line to make his PRO12 debut, having started in the centre against Enisei-STM last month.
"We have another big game on the road again this week," said Lam.
"Cardiff has been a difficult fixture for us the past few seasons and they are very tough to beat at home. They have some quality, experienced players in their squad and they will view this game as a chance to get back to winning ways.
"We know we will have to be at our best and fully focused as a team to get the four points on offer in another vital PRO12 game, before attention switches to Europe.
"With the short turn around and following a very physical game against Munster, we obviously see some changes in the side this week. While we lost four more guys to injury in the last game, we also have players coming back into contention. And with competition as high as ever, it makes our job for selection that bit more difficult but that's what we want as coaches."
"I'd also like to give a special mention to our skipper and warrior Mul (John Muldoon) who consistently epitomises what we're about and leads his province into battle for the record-breaking 200th time in the PRO12."
Connacht team to face Cardiff Blues
15 Tiernan O'Halloran
14 Darragh Leader
13 Bundee Aki
12 Craig Ronaldson
11 Matt Healy
10 Jack Carty
9 Ian Porter
1 Ronan Loughney
2 Dave Heffernan
3 Rodney Ah You
4 Quinn Roux
5 Aly Muldowney
6 John Muldoon (captain)
7 James Connolly
8 Eoin McKeon
16 Jason Harris-Wright
17 Conan O'Donnell
18 Finlay Bealham
19 George Naoupu
20 Sean O'Brien
21 Kieran Marmion
22 Peter Robb
23 Rory Parata
Unavailable/Injured: Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley, JP Cooney, Andrew Browne, Ben Marshall, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, Eoghan Masterson, John Cooney, AJ MacGinty*, Fionn Carr, Danie Poolman, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Finn, Api Pewhairangi.
*AJ MacGinty suffered a meniscal tear to his knee during the game against Munster. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Thursday and is facing 3 - 4 weeks of recovery.