The Connacht team to face Exeter Chiefs in round 2 of the European Challenge Cup has been named. Head Coach Pat Lam has made eight personnel changes from the starting XV that faced La Rochelle last weekend.

Loosehead prop Denis Buckley is recalled for Saturday’s game at Sandy Park while tighthead Nathan White has been handed the captaincy in the absence of John Muldoon who is rested this week having started every game prior to this one.

The competition’s highest capped player Michael Swift is named in the second row for his second appearance of the season and he is partnered by the returning Mick Kearney.

Galway man Andrew Browne starts in a back row with Willie Faloon and George Naoupu.

There are changes to the back line with the introduction of Niyi Adeolokun, Dave McSharry and Ian Porter. 24-year-old Craig Ronaldson, who started the last three games at inside centre, has this week been handed the reins at outhalf while Jack Carty is included amongst the replacements.

Notable changes to the bench include the call up of forward Danny Qualter and Academy scrumhalf Caolin Blade who are named in the match day squad for the first time this season. Wing Fionn Carr is in line to earn his 100th Connacht cap.

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

“Once again we have a very tough test in front of us and on the road. Exeter are flying high in the premiership and we expect them to name a very strong side at home. It’s going to be a great match because you have two teams that I believe are quite similar in the way they work extremely hard for each other and rely on team work.

“It’s good to be able to bring the experience and size of Michael (Swift), Mick (Kearney) and Andrew (Browne) into what is going to be another physical challenge. Their availability allows us to use our squad effectively ahead of another tough game away to Ospreys six days later.

“After playing well at inside centre for the last few games, Craig (Ronaldson) gets a well-deserved opportunity to lead the team from outhalf, with the experience of Dave McSharry outside him.

“We’ve been pleased with the performances of Danny (Qualter) and young Caolin (Blade) with the Eagles’ team this season and it’s great for both of them to get an opportunity this week.“

Connacht team to face Exeter                     

15. Darragh Leader
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Dave McSharry
11. Danie Poolman
10. Craig Ronaldson
9. Ian Porter

1. Denis Buckley
2. Jason Harris-Wright
3. Nathan White (captain)
4. Michael Swift
5. Mick Kearney
6. Andrew Browne
7. Willie Faloon
8. George Naoupu

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Ronan Loughney
18. Rodney Ah You
19. Aly Muldowney
20. Danny Qualter
21. Caolin Blade
22. Jack Carty
23. Fionn Carr

Unavailable/Injured: Sean Henry, Tom McCartney, Shane Delahunt, Mata Fifta, Jake Heenan, Matt Healy, Miah Nikora, Tiernan O’Halloran, Bundee Aki, Mils Muliaina

Exeter Chiefs v Connacht Rugby
Saturday October 25th
Sandy Park
Kick off 15:00

Referee: Pascal Gauzere (F)

The Connacht Clan are traveling to Exeter v Connacht on Saturday October 25th and have decided to go with East Terrace South (standing area). Tickets can be purchased online on the Exeter website. It’s £30 for adults, £18 for students, £11 for kids.

The game on Saturday will not be televised but you can listen to live coverage from Galway Bay FM, courtesy of Life Style Sports. Follow @ConnachtRugby on Twitter for live updates.

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