Connacht have made six changes to their lineup for the upcoming Leicester Champions Cup game this weekend, with a bevy of returning international players.
After starting the Heineken Champions Cup at home last weekend, Connacht are headed to Leicester this Sunday, expecting an intense challenge, but excited to face it.
They and the Tigers will meet at Mattioli Woods this Sunday at 1pm for their second game of the cup.
Connacht had an incredible start to their Champions Cup season last week, beating the juggernaut of Stade Francais 36 – 9.
Bundee Aki will be starting in his first Connacht game of the past two months, returning from an injury to partner Sammy Arnold at centre.
Tiernan O’Halloran is also included, starting at full-back with Alex Wootton and John Porch named on the wings.
After coming off the bench last week, Kieran Marmion comes in at scrum-half alongside captain Jack Carty.
Three further internationals – hooker Dave Heffernan, prop Finlay Bealham and lock Ultan Dillane – are also drafted into the pack.
Matthew Burke and Niall Murray make up the rest of the tight five, while the back row is unchanged with flankers Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver, and number 8 Jarrad Butler.
A powerful looking bench includes the likes of Tietie Tuimauga, who could make his debut if called upon, as well as Leva Fifita and Abraham Papali’i.
Head Coach Andy Friend said “We’re under no illusions we face one of the biggest challenges in European rugby on Sunday, but it’s also very exciting and exactly the kind of occasion you want to play in.”
“We’ve brought in a lot of experience which will stand to us for a game like this, and there’s some powerful options on the bench as well.”
“Tietie Tuimauga has settled in very well so Sunday will be a great stage for him to make his debut if called upon.”
The full Connacht squad for this Sunday’s game is:
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (195)
14. John Porch (45)
13. Sammy Arnold (24)
12. Bundee Aki (112)
11. Alex Wootton (25)
10. Jack Carty (167) (C)
9. Kieran Marmion (194)
1. Mattthew Burke (31)
2. Dave Heffernan (152)
3. Finlay Bealham (166)
4. Ultan Dillane (121)
5. Niall Murray (23)
6. Cian Prendergast (16)
7. Conor Oliver (28)
8. Jarrad Butler (81)
16. Shane Delahunt (108)
17. Tietie Tuimauga *
18. Jack Aungier (21)
19. Leva Fifita (3)
20. Abraham Papali’i (16)
21. Caolin Blade (138)
22. Conor Fitzgerald (42)
23. Diarmuid Kilgallen (4)