ROBBIE Henshaw will be bidding to help Connacht recover from their heavy defeat last week when the province hosts Munster in tomorrow’s Interpro clash at the Sportsground, Galway (6.15pm).
The game is live on RTE and after fielding an unchanged team for the last four games, Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made seven personnel and two positional changes for tomorrow’s match.
Willie Faloon is named at openside flanker after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up late last week. This is the first game in seven months for the 27 year-old, who joins Eoin McKeon and captain John Muldoon in the back row. Galway-born forwards Ronan Loughney and Andrew Browne are promoted from the bench and represent the only other changes to the pack.
There is also a reshuffle to the backline with scrum half Kieran Marmion the only player to be lining out in the same position as last week. Last week’s try scorer Darragh Leader has been named to start at full-back, while Ireland international and Athlone native Henshaw shifts to outside centre to partner Eoin Griffin.
Wingers Matt Healy and Danie Poolman return to the starting line-up for tomorrow’s game in place of Fionn Carr and Tiernan O’Halloran, who has been ruled out with a quad tear sustained in training mid-week. Miah Nikora is handed the reins at outhalf and completes an all-Irish qualified starting team.
Also ruled out this week is substitute hooker Dave Heffernan. With three hookers unavailable due to injury, the coaching team has had to call on the services of 19 year-old sub-Academy hooker Jack Dinneen. Limerick-born Dinneen, who now plays his club rugby with Galwegians RFC and studies Commerce in NUI Galway could earn his first senior cap against the Heineken Cup semi-finalists tomorrow.
Another notable addition to the bench is flanker Conor Gilsenan. On loan to Connacht for the remainder of the season, 21 year-old Gilsenan, from Mullingar, lined out twice for the Eagles last month. If called upon, this will be his first PRO12 appearance.
Connacht line-up v Munster
15. Darragh Leader; 14. Danie Poolman, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Eoin Griffin, 11. Matt Healy, 10. Miah Nikora, 9. Kieran Marmion; 1. Ronan Loughney, 2. Jason Harris-Wright, 3. Rodney Ah You, 4. Mick Kearney, 5. Andrew Browne, 6. John Muldoon (captain), 7. Willie Faloon, 8. Eoin McKeon.
Replacements: 16. Jack Dinneen, 17. Denis Buckley, 18. Finlay Bealham, 19. Aly Muldowney, 20. Conor Gilsenan, 21. Frank Murphy, 22. Dan Parks, 23. Dave McSharry.
Unavailable/Injured: Nathan White, Brett Wilkinson, Sean Henry, Dave Heffernan, James Rael, Craig Clarke, Jake Heenan, Tiernan O’Halloran, Craig Ronaldson, Paul O’Donohoe, Kyle Tonetti.