Bundee Aki rested for Connacht’s Challenge Cup opener

Coach Kieran Keane makes five changes for game against Oyonnax in Geneva

Andrew Deegan will make his European debut for Connacht in their Challenge Cup game away to Oyonnax in Geneva. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Andrew Deegan will make his European debut for Connacht in their Challenge Cup game away to Oyonnax in Geneva. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht coach Kieran Keane has made five changes to his side for Saturday night’s European Challenge Cup opener away to Oyonnax in Geneva (7pm Irish time).

Outhalf Andrew Deegan and loosehead prop Denis Coulson both start and make their European debuts for the province.

Eoin Griffin and Tom Farrell form a new centre pairing with Bundee Aki rested having played the full 80 minutes in all six of Connacht’s games so far this season.

Deegan forms a halfback pairing with Caolin Blade, who makes his third start of the season. In the frontrow Coulson is joined by hooker Tom McCartney and Finlay Bealham at tighthead.

Speaking ahead of the game, Keane said: “Oyonnax are in a similar situation to us and both teams are looking to build some momentum.

“This competition is new for me and quite a few of the boys, the fact that we’re playing in Geneva is a really interesting situation for us so there are a lot of new aspects to it.”

OYONNAX: Silvere Tian; Tim Giresse, Ulupano Seuteni, Roimata Hansell-Pune (capt), Axel Muller; Christopher Ruiz, Julien Audy; Giorgi Vepkhvadze, Benjamin Geledan, Irakli Mirtskhulava; Geoffrey Fabbri, Simon Christian Njewel; Bilel Taieb, Valentin Ursache, Maurie Fa’asavalu.

Replacements: Guilhem Bourgois, Vincent Debaty, Thomas Laclayat, Shay Kerry, Mickaël Romera, Anthony Fuertes, Jérémy Scalese, Romain Gauthier.

CONNACHT: Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy; Andrew Deegan, Caolin Blade; Denis Coulson, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, James Cannon; Eoghan Masterson, Eoin McKeon, John Muldoon (capt).

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Quinn Roux, James Connolly, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Rory Scholes.

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