It’s going to be another tough match for Connacht Rugby as they face the reigning champions Scarlets, its a strong Connacht team for the 7:35pm Kick off live on BBC Wales.
Connacht Head Coach Kieran Keane was fully aware of when he spoke to journalists ahead of the game: “They are very expensive, very well skilled and a well-drilled team. We are going over to beat them obviously. We have put in place a plan that we think could trouble them, but they are a quality side and you don’t become champions for nothing.
He went on to say; “This group of players now they want to win every week and so it’s a different mentality and focus. It’s come with time. When you have a season like we did last year, that’s what the players do the hard work for. To see the joy in the changing room each week it builds an atmosphere in the group and they understand that each game is very important.”
The side is also boosted by the return of Tiernan O’Halloran from injury and he takes his place on the wing with Darragh Leader being retained at full-back. After coming off the bench against Cardiff last week, Tom Farrell forms the centre pairing with Bundee Aki. Caolin Blade gets his second start of the season as he forms a half back partnership with Jack Carty.
(15-9) Darragh Leader, Tiernan O’Halloran, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Cian Kelleher, Jack Carty, Caolin Blade, (1-8) Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney (Capt), Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Jake Heenan, Jarrad Butler, Eoin McKeon
Replacements (16-23): Shane Delahunt, Denis Coulson, Finlay Bealham, Gavin Thornbury, Eoghan Masterson, Kieran Marmion, Steve Crosbie, Eoin Griffin.
Head Coach Wayne Pivac has been forced to make three changes due to injury with Gareth Davies, Samson Lee and John Barclay all unavailable due as they follow return to play protocols following head knocks on the weekend. Centre Hadleigh Parkes passed his HIA on the weekend but has been rested for Friday’s clash.Centre Scott Williams returns to the starting line up with Aled Davies coming in at scrum half in two backline changes.
Tighthead prop Werner Kruger, who crossed the whitewash for his first Scarlets try last Saturday, replaces Samson Lee in the front row. David Bulbring and Tadhg Beirne exchange places to starting line up and bench respectively whilst Josh Macleod fills the number eight berth in place of John Barclay.