Connacht have been boosted by the return of captain Jarrad Butler and Jack Carthy to face Gloucester in the Heineken Champions Cup on Sunday in Kingsholm.
Butler starts at number 8 having come off the bench last week following a knee injury. He joins a back row that includes Eoghan Masterson and Colby Fainga’a at blindside and openside respectively.
Elsewhere in the forwards, there is a highly experienced front row with hooker Tom McCartney and props Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham. In the second row Joe Maksymiw starts alongside Quinn Roux.
Bundee Aki has a new partner in midfield with Peter Robb coming into the side, while a late injury to Matt Healy sees John Porch switching from the wing to full back. The former Australian Sevens player, who scored two tries last weekend, is part of a back three with Kyle Godwin and Niyi Adeolokun occupying the wings.
Jack Carty comes back in at out half where he renews his half back partnership with the impressive Caolin Blade.
“The back to back fixtures in this competition are always critical and the next two weeks against Gloucester will decide our Champions Cup season” explained head coach Andy Friend.
“Next week will be a huge occasion but first we have to get a result on Sunday. For now, we are solely focused on that away leg and we are travelling to Gloucester with the belief that we can win the game”.
“It is great to have Jarrad Butler back in the side. As our captain he has a massive influence on the group and his presence will be important for such a big occasion.”
“We have also made a few positional changes to our side. Matt Healy picked up a knock in training so John Porch will slot in at full back and Kyle Godwin moves to the wing.”
“We have used over forty players so far this season so we know the depth that we have and that will be tested again in the coming weeks.”
Connacht: John Porch, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Peter Robb, Kyle Godwin, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Colby Fainga’a, Jarrad Butler (C).
Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Matthew Burke, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Ultan Dillane, Robin Copeland, Stephen Kerins, Conor Fitzgerald, Tom Daly
Gloucester v Connacht
Sunday December 8