PAT LAM HAS picked Cian Kelleher at fullback for the former Leinster man’s first start in a Connacht shirt.
The western province face Montpellier in a Challenge Vaquerin clash in Saint-Affrique this evening at 7pm Irish time.
Kelleher is joined in the back three by academy player Cormac Brennan and Niyi Adeolokun, one of the stars of last season’s Guinness Pro12 success. Eoin Griffin, who returned from London Irish this summer, partners Bundee Aki in midfield.
Jack Carty gets the first shot of the season at Connacht’s 10 shirt, with Caolin Blade starting at scrum-half.
In the pack, the selection of Sean O’Brien in the second row is interesting. The former Ireland U20 captain played much of his underage rugby as a lock, but has been used as a back row by Connacht up until this point.
Danny Qualter lines out alongside O’Brien in the second row, while Denis Buckley – back from an ankle injury – Dave Heffernan and new signing Dominic Robertson-McCoy make up the front row.
Captain John Muldoon is at number eight, with Eoin McKeon and Jake Heenan completing the back row.
Among the bench options is Clontarf FC prop Ivan Soroka, who is currently on trial with Connacht. The western province say Danie Poolman was a late withdrawal from their travelling squad for this pre-season trip to the south of France due to a visa issue.
This evening’s game will not be televised.
Connacht (v Montpellier):
15. Cian Kelleher
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Bundee Aki
11. Cormac Brennan
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade
1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Sean O’Brien
5. Danny Qualter
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Tom McCartney, Ivan Soroka, Ronan Loughney, Saba Meunargia, JP Cooney, Cian Romaine, Lewis Stevenson, James Connolly, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Conor McKeon, Conor Lowndes, Shane O’Leary, Ed O’Keeffe, Peter Robb, Rory Parata, Josh Rowland.
Non-playing squad members: Finlay Bealham, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion, Matt Healy, Tiernan O’Halloran.
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