Head Coach Pat Lam has made six changes – four to the pack – to his side to face La Rochelle in the final pool game of the European Challenge Cup. Connacht, who are still in the mix to secure one of the three best runner-up spots and a place in the quarter final, travel to France for the Saturday evening fixture (kick off 18:30).

Fullback Mils Muliaina will captain the side for the first time tomorrow while John Muldoon, who has started 16 of 18 games this season, is named on the bench.

Darragh Leader comes on to the right wing to allow Danie Poolman to shift to outside centre in the absence of Robbie Henshaw while 22-year-old Conor Finn from Galway wears the number 12 shirt.

Up front, the props are changed with Ronan Loughney and Nathan White, who both just signed new two year deals with the province, coming in. 33-year-old White, who was yesterday named in the 46-man Ireland squad ahead of the RBS 6 Nations, makes his return to the senior team after a ten-week absence due to injury. Galway men Andrew Browne and Eoin McKeon represent the other changes to the pack.

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

“With injuries to four of our mid fielders, the versatility of Danie (Poolman) sees him move to outside centre while young Conor (Finn) gets another opportunity after an impressive starting performance in our last game in France against Bayonne.

“With this being our tenth consecutive game at the end of a very busy block of fixtures, we felt it was important to bring in fresh legs up front against another big, physical forward pack in La Rochelle. The fact that the changes here sees all senior and experienced guys come in just highlights the competition for places we have this season in some positions.

“With the rotation of John (Muldoon) and Nathan (White) just coming back from injury, Mils (Muliaina) was the clear choice to lead the side tomorrow. As someone who has captained both the All Blacks and the Chiefs, his experience and influence on and off the park will be crucial for us tomorrow in a tough environment.

“This is knock out football already and we have prepared accordingly with a simple focus of getting the job done and reaching the last eight.”

15. Mils Muliaina (captain)
14. Darragh Leader
13. Danie Poolman
12. Conor Finn
11. Matt Healy
10. Jack Carty
9. Kieran Marmion

1. Ronan Louhgney
2. Tom McCartney
3. Nathan White
4. Quinn Roux
5. Andrew Browne
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Willie Faloon
8. George Naoupu

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. JP Cooney
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Danny Qualter
20. John Muldoon
21. Caolin Blade
22. Miah Nikora
23. Niyi Adeolokun

Unavailable/Injured: Jason Harris-Wright, Sean Henry, Ultan Dillane, Mick Kearney, John Cooney, Ian Porter, Craig Ronaldson, Bundee Aki, Dave McSharry, Robbie Henshaw

 

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