The Connacht Rugby team to face Zebre in Round 2 of the European Champions Cup has been named. Ahead of the trip to Italy, Pat Lam has made seven personnel changes from the side that defeated Toulouse six days ago.
In the absence of Tiernan O’Halloran due to injury, Cian Kelleher starts at fullback for the second time this season. New signing Stacey Ili is handed his first start having made two recent appearances from the bench.
Returning from injury, Peter Robb joins up with Craig Ronaldson in midfield while Ireland international Kieran Marmion is named in the number 9 shirt.
Hooker Shane Delahunt starts for the first time this season and packs down in the front row with the incoming JP Cooney and Finlay Bealham who shifts over to the tighthead side.
Quinn Roux is once again named to start in the second row having had to withdraw late before the game last weekend. The back row is also changed with blindside flanker Sean O’Brien earning his first start this season. Following his return from injury, the 21-year-old from Galway made an impressive cameo from the bench against Toulouse on Saturday
Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game head coach Pat Lam said:
“The best thing about our improved performances individually and collectively as a team is that it has brought back good competition for places in the squad. With that in mind, and obviously some niggles and injuries, we’ve made some changes for our trip to Italy.
“With Zebre’s target of winning their first Champions Cup game, we are fully expecting to see the real Zebre front up at home. Our whole week has been focused on our continued improvement in team performance which will give us the best chance to face their challenge head on. ”
The Connacht Rugby team to face Zebre in full is
(Connacht caps in brackets)
15 Cian Kelleher (5)
14 Niyi Adeolokun (38)
13 Peter Robb (19)
12 Craig Ronaldson (53)
11 Stacey Ili (2)
10 Jack Carty (60)
9 Kieran Marmion (107)
1 JP Cooney (33)
2 Shane Delahunt (19)
3 Finlay Bealham (63)
4 Quinn Roux (35)
5 Andrew Browne (146)
6 Sean O’Brien (21)
7 Jake Heenan (38)
8 John Muldoon (Captain) (281)
16 Dave Heffernan (63)
17 Dominic Robertson-McCoy (0)
18 Conor Carey (3)
19 Ultan Dillane (33)
20 Eoin McKeon (91)
21 Caolin Blade (26)
22 Shane O’Leary (20)
23 Bundee Aki (47)
Highlights on TG4 at 6:25pm
Head coach Mossy Lawler has named his Connacht Rugby Eagles side ahead of round 2 in the British & Irish Cup and the trip to play London Irish on Saturday. The side is captained by Roscommon’s Danny Qualter.
There are six personnel changes from the starting XV that lined out against Cornish Pirates in the opening round five days ago.
With changes to the senior side who travel to play Zebre in the Champions Cup tomorrow afternoon, there is a reshuffle to the Eagles backline with Dave Panter drafted in from Corinthians RFC to start at fullback.
Kiltoom’s Luke Carty, younger brother of senior out-half Jack, swaps the number 15 shirt for 10 this week while Mitch Lam, who scored all ten points last Sunday, lines out at inside centre. Wing Adam Leavy and scrumhalf Conor McKeon from the Connacht Academy are further personnel changes to the youthful backline.
Cronan Gleeson and Pat O’Toole are both promoted from the bench to start in the front row, while experienced lock Lewis Stevenson is named in the second row where he partners this week’s team captain Danny Qualter.
Commenting on the upcoming game, Mossy Lawler said:
“It’s another big challenge this week as we head over to London Irish with a very young and relatively inexperienced group but the team are determined to put in a performance we can be proud of. There were some positive aspects to our game last week, despite the loss, but we know we will need to build on these and improve across the board to give us a chance tomorrow.”
Connacht Rugby Eagles team to face London Irish, Madejski Stadium, Saturday October 22nd, 3pm
(Connacht senior caps and affiliated club in brackets)
15 Dave Panter (Corinthians RFC)
14 Adam Leavy (Galwegians RFC)
13 Rory Parata (18) (Galwegians RFC)
12 Mitch Lam (Galwegians RFC)
11 Ed O’Keeffe (Galwegians RFC)
10 Luke Carty (Buccaneers RFC)
9 Conor McKeon (2) (Buccaneers RFC)
1 Cronan Gleeson (Nenagh RFC)
2 Pat O’Toole (Corinthians RFC)
3 Jason East (Galwegians RFC)
4 Lewis Stevenson (6)
5 Danny Qualter (captain) (14) Buccaneers RFC)
6 Marc Kelly (Galwegians RFC)
7 James Connolly (21) (Corinthians RFC)
8 Stephen McVeigh (Buccaneers RFC)
16 Shane O’Hehir (Sligo RFC)
17 Ja Naughton (Galwegians RFC)
18 Sean Masterson (Corinthians RFC)
19 Josh Pim (Galwegians RFC)
20 Stephen Kerins (Corinthians RFC)
21 Jordan Conroy (Buccaneers RFC)
22 Joe Murphy (Corinthians RFC)