The Connacht team to face Exeter Chiefs in round 5 of the European Challenge Cup has been named. Head Coach Pat Lam has made four personnel changes from the starting XV that faced Edinburgh last weekend.

Craig Ronaldson has been handed the reins at outhalf in a half back pairing with 22-year-old Ireland international Kieran Marmion who marks his 70th appearance for Connacht.

Dave McSharry, whose new two-year deal with the province was confirmed today, starts in the centre with Robbie Henshaw while Matt Healy returns to the left wing to shift Danie Poolman to the right.

The only change to the pack sees Number 8 George Naoupu promoted from the bench to start in a back row with Willie Faloon and captain John Muldoon.

Commenting on the team selection and the upcoming game, Head Coach Pat Lam said:

“With a new challenge this week, we’ve changed up our back line slightly for the visit of Exeter Chiefs. Craig (Ronaldson) did very well for us against Munster and, after coming back from injury, he gets a chance again on Sunday. With Bundee (Aki) unfortunately out injured for the next while, it’s great to be able to call on the experience of Dave (McSharry). And with the different conditions expected this week, Matt Healy returns.

“This is a massively important game for us. While we have stated that our main priority is the PRO12, another of our big team goals is to progress in Europe to the knock out stages. This game on Sunday against a quality Premiership side in Exeter is vital in determining who tops this group.

“The weather is looking dry for our Sunday afternoon kick off so that will make for a change for us and also our fantastic supporters who have braved the tough conditions the last two weeks. We’re all looking forward to another packed Sportsground.”

Connacht team to face Exeter

15. Mils Muliaina
14. Danie Poolman
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Dave McSharry
11. Matt Healy
10. Craig Ronaldson
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Rodney Ah You
4. Quinn Roux
5. Aly Muldowney
6. John Muldoon (captain)
7. Willie Faloon
8. George Naoupu

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Andrew Browne
20. Eoin McKeon
21. Caolin Blade
22. Jack Carty
23. Darragh Leader

Unavailable/Injured: Jason Harris-Wright, Sean Henry, Ultan Dillane, Mick Kearney, Jake Heenan, John Cooney, Ian Porter, Bundee Aki, Tiernan O’Halloran.

Connacht v Exeter Chiefs
Sunday January 18th
the Sportsground
Kick off 15:15

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (F)
Assistant Referees: Sebastien Minery; Thomas Dejean
Citing Commissioner: Ray Wilton
TMO: Herve Dubes

The Clan and Main Stand for Connacht v Exeter are now SOLD OUT. Starting at €25 for Adults, remaining tickets are ON SALE from tickets.ie, from the Connacht Rugby office at the Sportsground in Galway and from Centra & SuperValue stores province-wide.

Related

Irish Rugby and Rugby Players Ireland Agree Pay Deferrals