Head Coach Pat Lam has made two personnel changes to his side to face Gloucester in the Champions Cup play-off game at Kingsholm Stadium (Sunday, 3:30pm).

John Cooney, who was this week named on the Emerging Ireland squad, comes in to start at scrum half in the absence of an injured Kieran Marmion* while Ian Porter takes a place on the replacements bench.

George Naoupu represents the only change to the pack and he is named in the second row alongside Aly Muldowney.

Tight head prop Rodney Ah You will run out for his 100th appearance for the province, packing down in a front row with Tom McCartney and Connacht Rugby Forward of the Year Denis Buckley who was also named in the Emerging Ireland squad this week.

22-year-old Academy forward James Connolly, who made an appearance at Kingsholm in the Challenge Cup quarter final last month, is once again included amongst the replacements.

*Kieran Marmion has been ruled out with a medial ligament tear to his left ankle and faces up to four weeks recovery time.

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

“At this stage of the season, our small squad is pretty badly hit with injuries and that list of unavailable players has grown even further now with Kieran (Marmion) out for us as well.

“We’re going up against a quality Gloucester side stacked with international players and their top XV coming off the back of a week’s rest. There’s no doubt they have the advantage playing in their home ground so we know we will have to be at our very best as a team.

“Our season goal was to finish in the top 6 so we could qualify automatically for Champions Cup rugby next season. While seventh is a record finish for Connacht rugby in the PRO12, we still have this opportunity to secure that final place so there’s huge motivation. Win this weekend against Gloucester and we’ll be at home the following Sunday in front of our home crowd. Connacht has never been in this position before. It’s knock out rugby; we may be battered and bruised but we’re massively excited by it.”

Connacht team to face Gloucester

15. Tiernan O’Halloran
14. Fionn Carr
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Bundee Aki
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. John Cooney

1. Denis Buckley
2. Tom McCartney
3. Rodney Ah You
4. George Naoupu
5. Aly Muldowney
6. John Muldoon (captain)
7. Eoghan Masterson
8. Eoin McKeon

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Andrew Browne
20. James Connolly
21. Ian Porter
22. Miah Nikora
23. Shane O’Leary

Unavailable/Injured: Jason Harris-Wright, Sean Henry, Ronan Loughney, Nathan White, Mick Kearney, Quinn Roux, Mata Fifita, Willie Faloon, Jake Heenan, Kieran Marmion, Craig Ronaldson, Conor Finn, Dave McSharry, Danie Poolman, Darragh Leader, Mils Muliaina.

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