Pat Lam has 22 fit players for trip to play Newcastle Falcons

Connnacht boss has just nine fit backs at his disposal for Challenge Cup fixture

Connacht boss Pat Lam has named 22 players, including all nine fit backs at his disposal, for Sunday's Challenge Cup trip to play Newcastle.

Lam has seen his squad decimated by injury, and earlier this week had an appeal to bring in extra players turned down by the EPCR.

He has made seven changes to the side which won 25-10 against the Falcons at the Sportsground last weekend, including giving 22-year-old outhalf Shane O’Leary his first start in a Connacht shirt.

Craig Ronaldso returns to join Peter Robb in the midfield, with Rory Parata moving out to the right wing and Danie Poolman shifting to fullback.

19-year-old academy prop Conan O'Donnell will make his first senior start in the frontrow, while Eoghan Masterson returns in the backrow alongside George Nauopu who skippers the side.

Ahead of the trip to North East England, Lam Said: “This is another big game for us and one we’re looking forward to. We want to cement our position at the top of pool 1 before we switch back into a busy schedule in the PRO12.

“Personally, I’m really looking forward to going back to Kingston Park where I know it’s going to be tough, especially with the fantastic supporters who always lift the team and add to the atmosphere. There is no doubt that Newcastle will feel they should have got more from our game last week and they will present a real challenge for us on their 4G pitch.

“Initially we had 23 players named for this weekend with eight front rowers included but unfortunately we lost Ronan Loughney at training today when he pulled up with a minor back injury. So although we are down to just nine fit backs in our European squad, we have 22 players traveling who have brought a real intensity to training this week. They understand our team work and work ethic will give us the best chance to stay unbeaten in the competition.”

Connacht: Danie Poolman, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun, Shane O'Leary, Caolin Blade, Conan O'Donnell, Jason Harris-Wright, Rodney Ah You, Danny Qualter, Andrew Browne, Sean O'Brien, Eoghan Masterson, George Naoupu.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Saba Meunargia, Aly Muldowney, Dave Heffernan, Ian Porter, Jack Carty

Latest Stories