Dublin: 2°C Sunday 28 November 2021

Lam wraps regulars in cotton wool as he names completely different XV to face Bayonne

Four players will make their full debuts for the province in France.

Miah Nikora will captain an inexperienced side.
Miah Nikora will captain an inexperienced side.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

WITH A CRUCIAL set of fixtures in the Guinness Pro12 on the horizon, Connacht head coach Pat Lam hasn’t taken any risks by fielding a completely changed side for Saturday’s trip to Bayonne to the one that comfortably defeated the same opposition last week.

The Westerners strolled to a bonus point win at the Sportsground and while they are hot on the heels of Exeter Chiefs in Pool 2 of the Challenge Cup, the priorities lie elsewhere with games against Munster and Leinster approaching.

Unusually, Lam has made 15 changes for the game which kicks-off at 7.45pm Irish time.

Academy graduate Caolin Blade will make his first senior start at scrum-half while Conor Finn, James Connolly and Danny Qualter all make their first starts for the province.

Miah Nikora will captain the side with Michael Swift – Connacht’s most capped player – returning to add an experienced head to the pack.

“With an extremely busy period ahead and a number of guys injured or unavailable to us, there are a lot of players getting an opportunity to wear the Connacht jersey this weekend,” Lam said.

“It’s an exciting time for them and this week has been all about ensuring that they have clarity in their role and the game plan to execute our Connacht systems with confidence. I look forward to seeing how they perform in a pressurised environment.”

Bayonne currently sit bottom of Pool 2 and although they rolled over in Galway last week, Lam knows they will provide a much sterner test on home soil.

“Tomorrow night presents a very different task to the one at the Sportsground last week. Like all French teams, Bayonne at home will be a totally different proposition.”

Connacht can increase the pressure on Exeter with victory at the Stade Jean Dauger in Round 4.


15. Darragh Leader
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Conor Finn
12. Craig Ronaldson
11. Fionn Carr
10. Miah Nikora (captain)
9. Caolin Blade

1. Ronan Loughney
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Finlay Bealham
4. Michael Swift
5. Aly Muldowney
6. James Connolly
7. Willie Faloon
8. Danny Qualter


16. Shane Delahunt
17. Denis Buckley
18. Saba Meunargia
19. George Naoupu
20. Eoin McKeon
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Dave McSharry
23. Matt Healy

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Ryan Bailey

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