With Champions Cup rugby already secured Connacht have opted for a much-changed squad to face Edinburgh at The Sportsground on Saturday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

Academy players Cian Prendergast and centre Sean O’Brien are handed their first starts, and Oran McNulty is in line for his first appearance off the bench.

Hooker Shane Delahunt is joined by props Denis Buckley and Jack Aungier in the frontrow, while in the secondrow Niall Murray partners Gavin Thornbury who is fresh off the back of a brilliant Player of the Match performance against Munster last week.

Jarrad Butler will lead the team out from openside flanker with Prendergast on the opposite flank and Eoghan Masterson at number eight.

Jack Carty continues at outhalf where he’s partnered by Kieran Marmion, while Tom Daly joins Sean O’Brien at centre. There’s an exciting back three line-up of Matt Healy, Ben O’Donnell and Alex Wootton to complete the side.

Commenting on the team selection, head coach Andy Friend says: “Securing a top three finish with games to spare gives us a really good opportunity to give more minutes to players who have been knocking on the door all season.

“That said, we are still going out there as eager as ever to pick up another win. It would be another positive step for us to secure second place in the Conference so that’s what we’ll look to do, and the task for this group of players is to build on last week’s performance against Munster.”

All Connacht “pro players and management” again returned negative results in the latest round of PCR testing.

CONNACHT: Alex Wootton; Ben O’Donnell, Sean O’Brien, Tom Daly, Matt Healy; Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Shane Delahunt; Jack Aungier; Niall Murray, Gavin Thornbury; Cian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler (capt), Eoghan Masterson.

Replacements: Jonny Murphy, Jordan Duggan, Conor Kenny, Abraham Papali’i, Conor Oliver, Caolin Blade, Conor Fitzgerald, Oran McNulty.



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