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Dublin: 6 °C Monday 22 October, 2018

A first start for fullback Rowland as Connacht boss Lam makes five changes

The reigning Pro12 champions take on Zebre in Italy tomorrow in a rearranged fixture.

Connacht head coach Pat Lam.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Pat Lam has made five changes in personnel for tomorrow’s rearranged Guinness Pro12 tie against Zebre in Parma (2.30pm).

The reigning Pro12 champions will be desperate to get back to winning ways; last weekend’s 35-24 loss at Glasgow having ended their four-match winning streak in the competition.

Lam’s side are still chasing a top-six finish but know they can ill afford any slip-ups with the sixth-place Warriors 12 points ahead of them, although they have played one game more.

With four rounds of regulation fixtures remaining in this campaign after this game in hand, nothing short of a bonus-point win will do in Italy and Connacht will have to achieve that without Ireland internationals Tiernan O’Halloran and Kieran Marmion.

The centrally-contracted duo are on scheduled rest weeks and their absence results in two of four changes in the Connacht backline.

O’Halloran’s unavailability opens the door for Ireland sevens player Josh Rowland to make his first start for the province at fullback, after making his debut off the bench last weekend, while John Cooney gets the nod at scrum-half.

Danie Poolman replaces the injured Niyi Adeolokun on the right wing while Tom Farrell partners Bundee Aki in midfield, a selection which sees Craig Ronaldson drop to the bench.

Lam has made just one change up front with Eoin McKeon replacing the injured Jake Heenan (shin) at openside flanker.

Centre Eoin Griffin also makes a welcome return to the fold after going under the knife to correct a chest muscle injury last November. An appearance from the bench tomorrow would be his first in a Connacht shirt for six months.

The original fixture against Zebre last September was abandoned at half-time due to a thunderstorm with Connacht 22-10 in arrears. Lam will no doubt be desperate to make a much better start this time around.


15. Josh Rowland
14. Danie Poolman
13. Tom Farrell
12. Bundee Aki
11. Stacey Ili
10. Jack Carty
9. John Cooney

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Quinn Roux
5. Andrew Browne
6. Sean O’Brien
7. Eoin McKeon
8. John Muldoon (c)

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Ivan Soroka
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
19. James Cannon
20. Eoghan Masterson
21. Caolin Blade
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Eoin Griffin


15. Dion Berryman
14. Kayle Van Zyl
13. Giulio Bisegni
12. Tommaso Boni
11. Lloyd Greeff
10. Carlo Canna
9. Marcello Violi

1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Tomasso D’Apice
3. Dario Chistolini
4. Gideon Koegelenberg
5. George Biagi (c)
6. Joshua Furno
7. Derick Minnie
8. Federico Ruzza

16. Sidney Tobias
17. Andrea De Marchi
18. Pietro Ceccarelli
19. Valerio Bernabo
20. Oliviero Fabiani
21. Guglielmo Palazzani
22. Matteo Pratichetti
23. Edoardo Padovani
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Alan Waldron

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