Henshaw returns to Connacht side for Zebre clash

Ireland fullback one of a number of changes for Sportsground clash

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw in action against Zebre last season. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht’s Robbie Henshaw in action against Zebre last season. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht coach Pat Lam gives Ireland fullback Robbie Henshaw his first of the season for their RaboDirect Pro12 opener at home to Italian side Zebre at the Sportsground on Saturday (5pm).

Henshaw’s inclusion means Fionn Carr moves to the right wing from last weekend’s pre-season defeat away to the Newcastle Falcons, with Tiernan O’Halloran moving to the bench.

Danie Poolman comes in at outside centre, with Eoin Griffin moving to 12, and Matt Healy returns to the left wing.

Dan Parks has a new partner at halfback as Kieran Marmion takes over from Frank Murphy at scrumhalf.

There are also a number of changes in the pack, although the frontrow of Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White are kept as a unit.

Michael Swift comes in to captain the side from the secondrow and is joined by Andrew Browne, with newcomer Craig Clarke ruled out with a calf injury.

There’s one change in the backrow with Ireland international John Muldoon coming in at blindside for Eoin McKeon.

Lam is looking forward to his first competitive game in charge.

“Everything we have been doing in pre-season has been geared towards this Saturday and we are ready to go.

“We know the importance of this game. Zebre are a tough side and are hanging out for a win. But we cannot worry about them. The focus is on us as a team, making sure we do exactly what we have been working on, that we have clarity in our jobs.

“We want the four points, we want the win, but the real focus is on us playing as a team. If we do that, the chances of getting the four points will increase.”

CONNACHT (v Zebre, Sportsground, Saturday, 5pm): R Henshaw; F Carr, D Poolman, E Griffin, M Healy; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White; M Swift (capt), A Browne; J Muldoon, W Faloon, G Naoupu. Replacements: S Henry, R Ah You, R Loughney, A Muldowney, J Heenan, F Murphy, C Ronaldson, T O’Halloran.