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
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).
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.