Irish internationals, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane have returned to the Connacht starting XV for their interprovincial derby against Leinster on Saturday while Bundee Aki is named among the bench.
Bealham comes back into a front row that sees Denis Buckley returning at loosehead and Tom McCartney retained at hooker. In the second row Dillane will line up alongside Gavin Thornbury with James Cannon named among the replacements.
Captain Jarrad Butler comes back into the side at blindside alongside Colby Fainga’a and Paul Boyle at number 8.
Jack Carty and Caolin Blade renew their half-back partnership, while the back three sees Darragh Leader come in for Matt Healy who picked up a knock in training during the week, with Cian Kelleher named on the opposite wing with Tiernan O’Halloran at full back. The midfield pairing of Tom Farrell and Kyle Godwin completes the side.
📢 TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT 📢
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) December 21, 2018
Aki has returned from his wedding in New Zealand and takes his place on the bench alongside the likes of David Horowitz and Shane Delahunt.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Cian Kelleher, Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell, Darragh Leader, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Gavin Thornbury, Jarrad Butler, Colby Fainga’a, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Dominic Robertson McCoy, James Cannon, Eoghan Masterson, James Mitchell, David Horwitz, Bundee Aki.
Meanwhile, Rhys Ruddock will captain Leinster for the clash in the RDS Arena, alongside Dan Leavy and Caelan Doris in the back row.
Hugo Keenan gets his third start of the season with the Academy back lining out at full back with try scorer from last week Adam Byrne on the right wing and Dave Kearney on the left.
Another Academy player Conor O’Brien starts at inside centre with last week’s Heineken Man of the Match Rory O’Loughlin outside him.
Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne are the starting half backs for Cullen.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) December 21, 2018
In the pack Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne and Michael Bent are in the front row with former Connacht player Mick Kearney and Scott Fardy behind them in the second row.
Leinster: Hugo Keenan,Adam Byrne, Rory O’Loughlin, Conor O’Brien, Dave Kearney, Ross Byrne, Jamison Gibson-Park; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne, Michael Bent, Mick Kearne, Scott Fardy, Rhys Ruddock, Dan Leavy, Caelan Doris.
Replacements: Seán Cronin, Ed Byrne, Andrew Porter, Ross Molony, Max Deegan, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ciarán Frawley, Noel Reid.
Kick off in the RDS is 7.45pm with Eir Sport providing live coverage of the game.