New signing Jarrad Butler starts for Connacht
Irish internationals Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane named in starting team
Jarrad Butler of Connacht. His side face a tough opening game against the Warriors. Photograph: Getty Images
Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, Sportsground (7.35pm, live on TG4)
New signing Jarrad Butler starts while recent Ireland training camp attendee Bundee Aki will be the centre of attention in many respects as new Connacht coach Kieran Keane gets his tenure off and running in competitive terms.
Keane will face his fellow New Zealand former colleague Dave Rennie, the latter taking over from Gregor Townsend during the summer. “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.”
Irish internationals Kieran Marmion, Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane are named in the starting team, while Eoin Griffin, Matt Healy and Cian Kelleher have hopefully put last season’s injury woes behind them.
John Cooney’s move to Ulster and Caolin Blade’s injury means that Conor McKeon is named among the replacements. He played outhalf during his schools career, but the academy player spent a little over a season converting to the role of scrumhalf. John Muldoon starts into his 15th season.
Former All Black Lelia Masaga will make his competitive debut for the visitors, while at the other end of the scale 27-year-old centre and Scottish international Alex Dunbar will be making his 100th appearance for Glasgow.
This is a tough opening game for Connacht as the Warriors have caused them problems in the past, but based on the resources available to the respective coaches this might just go the way of the home side.
CONNACHT: D Leader; C Kelleher, E Griffin, B Aki, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, F Bealham; U Dillane, J Cannon; E Masterson, J Butler, J Muldoon. Replacements: S Delahunt, P McCabe, C Carey, S O’Brien, E McKeon, C McKeon, C Ronaldson, T Farrell.
GLASGOW WARRIORS: R Jackson; L Masaga, A Dunbar, S Johnson, L Jones; P Horne, A Price; J Bhatti, G Turner, Z Fagerson; T Swinson, S Cummings; R Wilson (capt), S Smith, A ashe. Replacements: J Malcolm, O Kebble, A Nicol, G Peterson, M Fagerson, H Pyrgos, A Hastings, L Sarto.
Referee: B Whitehouse (Wales)