Connacht team: Cian Kelleher in for the injured Tiernan O’Halloran
Bundee Aki among the replacements as Quinn Roux is again named to start the game
Cian Kelleher will start at fullback in Italy this weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Pat Lam has made seven personnel changes from the Connacht side that defeated Toulouse six days ago, to face Zebre in the European Champions Cup on Sunday.
In the absence of Tiernan O’Halloran due to injury, Cian Kelleher starts at fullback for the second time this season. New signing Stacey Ili is handed his first start having made two recent appearances from the bench.
Hooker Shane Delahunt starts for the first time this season and packs down in the front row with the incoming JP Cooney and Finlay Bealham who shifts over to the tighthead side.
Quinn Roux is once again named to start in the second row having had to withdraw late before the game last weekend. The back row is also changed with blindside flanker Sean O’Brien earning his first start this season. Following his return from injury, the 21-year-old from Galway made an impressive cameo from the bench against Toulouse on Saturday
Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game head coach Pat Lam said:
“The best thing about our improved performances individually and collectively as a team is that it has brought back good competition for places in the squad. With that in mind, and obviously some niggles and injuries, we’ve made some changes for our trip to Italy.
“With Zebre’s target of winning their first Champions Cup game, we are fully expecting to see the real Zebre front up at home. Our whole week has been focused on our continued improvement in team performance which will give us the best chance to face their challenge head on. “
CONNACHT: Cian Kelleher; Niyi Adeolokun, Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson, Stacey Ili; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; JP Cooney, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham; Quinn Roux, Andrew Browne; Sean O’Brien, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (captain). Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Eoin McKeon, Caolin Blade, Shane O’Leary, Bundee Aki.