Jarrad Butler in for his debut for Connacht’s Pro14 opener

Kieran Keane fields strong XV for visit of Glasgow with Bundee Aki in the midfield

Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Denis Coulson and James Mitchell during Connacht training this week. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler, Denis Coulson and James Mitchell during Connacht training this week. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht have named new signing Jarrad Butler in their opening day XV to play Glasgow Warriors in the Sportsground on Saturday.

Bundee Aki also returns to the side in a midfield partnership with Eoin Griffin as Connacht aim to get off to a winning start under new head coach Kieran Keane.

The team is further strengthened by the inclusion of four Irish internationals, as Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane start in the front five. While Kieran Marmion starts at scrumhalf where he renews his halfback pairing with Jack Carty.

Veteran John Muldoon captains the side at number eight in his 15th season with his native province. Eoghan Masterson joins him in the backrow along with debutant Butler.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his first competitive game in the Sportsground, where he faces his former colleague Dave Rennie, Keane said: “It’s ironic that we face Dave’s Glasgow side in my first game in charge. They will be playing an open expansive style of rugby as will we.

“There was an incredible atmosphere for our pre-season game at home to Bristol last week. I’m sure the guys will get a massive reception when they take to the field again on Saturday evening”.

Connacht: Darragh Leader; Cian Kelleher, Eoin Griffin, Bundee Aki, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, James Cannon; Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon.

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Sean O’Brien, Eoin McKeon, Conor McKeon, Craig Ronaldson, Tom Farrell.

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