Seán O'Brien (R) starts at eight for the men from the west. Ben Brady/INPHO

First starts for McElroy and O'Brien as Connacht make eight changes for Edinburgh

Tom Daly and John Porch will make their first appearances of the new campaign at the Hive Stadium, while Edinburgh have 11 internationals in their 23.

HOOKER TADGH MCELROY and back row Seán O’Brien will make their first Connacht starts in Saturday’s United Rugby Championship meeting with Edinburgh in the Scottish capital (7:35pm, TG4/Premier Sports).

The inclusions of McElroy and O’Brien are among eight changes made by Pete Wilkins to the side that beat Ulster in the first interpro of the season, with table-topping Connacht aiming to open their campaign with four wins on the spin for the first time in 21 years.

Tom Daly and John Porch will make seasonal bows at Hive Stadium: Daly is partnered in midfield by Byron Ralston, who moves from the wing to 13. Porch will start on the right wing, with Andrew Smith brought in on the opposite edge. Tiernan O’Halloran continues at fullback after a fine start to the season.

Jack Carty again captains Connacht outside the in-form Caolin Blade, while JJ Hanrahan has returned from a minor injury to back up the skipper and potentially also cover fullback from the bench.

In the front row, Peter Dooley comes in alongside McElroy and Jack Aungier, while Murray brothers Niall and Darragh start at lock.

First-time starter O’Brien is joined in the back row by Cian Prendergast at blindside and Conor Oliver at openside.

Sam Illo is set to feature for the first time this season off the bench.

“Tomorrow marks the beginning of an important few weeks for us,” said Connacht boss Pete Wilkins. “We’ve made a good start with the three home wins but now need to keep that form going away from home, starting in Scotland tomorrow.

“Edinburgh away is always a tough test and this game will be no different. For us it was important to find a balance in our selection, rewarding recent performances, whilst also providing an opportunity to those players who have narrowly missed out in previous weeks.

“Above all else, it’s a 23 that I believe can get the win if we play to our strengths and take our opportunities when they come.”

ben-healy Ben Healy continues at out-half for Edinburgh. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Edinburgh have named 11 internationals in their matchday 23, with Sean Everitt making five changes to the side which fell to Leinster at the RDS last weekend.

Ben Healy continues at out-half for the Scottish-capital club, with loosehead Pierre Schoeman set to become the 39th Edinburgh player — and 10th front-rower — to reach 100 appearances for the club.

Edinburgh’s changes include hooker Ewan Ashman and tighthead prop Javan Sebastian, both of whom come into the starting front row with Dave Cherry dropping to the bench and WP Nel being rested.

Academy product Connor Boyle deputises at openside for Hamish Watson, who is ruled out with an injury to his cheekbone, while Fijian number eight Viliame Mata comes in for Luke Crosbie who sustained a concussion in training.

Scotland centre James Lang replaces the injured Matt Currie at 12.


  • 15. Blair Kinghorn
  • 14. Wes Goosen
  • 13. Mark Bennett
  • 12. James Lang
  • 11. Duhan van der Merwe
  • 10. Ben Healy
  • 9. Charlie Shiel
  • 1. Pierre Schoeman
  • 2. Ewan Ashman
  • 3. Javan Sebastian
  • 4. Glen Young
  • 5. Grant Gilchrist (Captain)
  • 6. Tom Dodd
  • 7. Connor Boyle
  • 8. Viliame Mata


  • 16. Dave Cherry
  • 17. Boan Venter
  • 18. Angus Williams
  • 19. Marshall Sykes
  • 20. Ben Muncaster
  • 21. Ben Vellacott
  • 22. Chris Dean
  • 23. Ross McCann


  • 15. Tiernan O’Halloran
  • 14. John Porch
  • 13. Byron Ralston
  • 12. Tom Daly
  • 11. Andrew Smith
  • 10. Jack Carty (Captain)
  • 9. Caolin Blade
  • 1. Peter Dooley
  • 2. Tadgh McElroy
  • 3. Jack Aungier
  • 4. Niall Murray
  • 5. Darragh Murray
  • 6. Cian Prendergast
  • 7. Conor Oliver
  • 8. Seán O’Brien


  • 16. Dylan Tierney-Martin
  • 17. Jordan Duggan
  • 18. Sam Illo
  • 19. Joe Joyce
  • 20. Jarrad Butler
  • 21. Colm Reilly
  • 22. David Hawkshaw
  • 23. JJ Hanrahan

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