Pat Lam has named his first match day squad since the Guinness PRO12 final three months ago. The league champions will face Top 14 side Montpellier tonight as part of the Challenge Vaquerin tournament in Saint-Affrique, France.

With a number of players ruled out through injury or unavailable for selection due to an extended break after the tour to South Africa with Ireland, tonight’s game offers Lam and his back room team of Jimmy Duffy, Dave Ellis and Conor McPhillips the chance to give the new summer signings and academy players a run out. The line-up shows a combination of youth and experience as the team come up against a French side just nine days out from the start of their own Top 14 campaign.

Prop Dominic Robertson Mc-Coy and fullback Cian Kelleher will both make their debut in a Connacht jersey as they are named in the starting XV. Following a two-year spell with London Irish, Galway man Eoin Griffin returns to partner Bundee Aki in midfield while the uncapped Academy back Cormac Brennan is named on the left wing with Niyi Adeolokun on the right.

Outhalf Jack Carty and prop Denis Buckley, both coming back from long-term injury, will make a welcome return against Montpellier tonight.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, head coach Pat Lam said:

“It’s been a good few days in France for us as a squad. Having that time away together is important in our pre-season preparation and now we have a tough test ahead of us with Montpellier just a week out from the start of their Top 14 season. It’s a great opportunity for the coaches and players to see where we are at and take some learnings back home with us.

“It’s a little over three weeks to go until round 1 against Glasgow Warriors back at the Sportsground so as a coaching team, we are encouraging strong competition thorughout the squad. Tonight is the perfect stage for the players to stand up to the challenge and push for a starting place in the team.”

Connacht team to face Montpellier, Thursday August 11th, Saint-Affrique, kick off 8pm (local time)

15. Cian Kelleher
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Eoin Griffin
12. Bundee Aki
11. Cormac Brennan
10. Jack Carty
9. Caolin Blade

1. Denis Buckley
2. Dave Heffernan
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Sean O’Brien
5. Danny Qualter
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Jake Heenan
8. John Muldoon (captain)

Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Tom McCartney, Ivan Soroka, Ronan Loughney, Saba Meunargia, JP Cooney, Cian Romaine, Lewis Stevenson, James Connolly, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Conor McKeon, Conor Lowndes, Shane O’Leary, Ed O’Keeffe, Peter Robb, Rory Parata, Josh Rowland.

*Danie Poolman was a late withdrawal from the squad due to a visa issue that prevented him from travelling.

Non-playing: Finlay Bealham, Conor Carey, Ultan Dillane, Kieran Marmion, Matt Healy, Tiernan O’Halloran

Montpellier v Connacht Rugby
Saint-Affrique
Thursday August 11th 
kick off 8pm local time (7pm Irish time)

This game will not be broadcast on tv or radio. Keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook accounts for score updates.

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