Head Coach Pat Lam has appointed Michael Swift to captain his side’s RaboDirect PRO12 opener against Zebre at the Sportsground this Saturday (kick-off 5pm).

Swift, the highest capped player for both Connacht and the Celtic League, will be joined by Andrew Browne in the second row.

Newcomer Craig Clarke has been ruled out of this week’s game due to a calf injury picked up in the pre-season friendly against Newcastle.

Brett Wilkinson, who was granted Irish citizenship last month having arrived at Connacht in 2006, makes up the front row trio with Jason Harris-Wright and Nathan White.

Pat Lam 30/8/2013

George Naoupu starts at Number 8, earning his 50th cap for the province, and packs down alongside flankers John Muldoon and Willie Faloon.

In the backs, Irish international Robbie Henshaw returns to the fray for his first Connacht game of the season. The back three is completed by Connacht’s most prolific try scorer and recent returnee Fionn Carr on the right wing and Matt Healy, who started two out of three of the pre-season games, on the left.

On the bench, new signings Sean Henry, Aly Muldowney, Jake Heenan and Craig Ronaldson are all in line to make their first competitive start for Connacht.

Unavailable / Injured: Denis Buckley, Craig Clarke, Gavin Duffy, Eoin McKeon, Dave McSharry, Miah Nikora, and Kyle Tonetti

Head Coach Pat Lam is looking forward to his first competitive game in charge:

“Everything we have been doing in pre-season has been geared towards this Saturday and we are ready to go.

“We know the importance of this game. Zebre are a tough side and are hanging out for a win. But we cannot worry about them. The focus is on us as a team, making sure we do exactly what we have been working on, that we have clarity in our jobs.

 “We want the four points, we want the win, but the real focus is on us playing as a team. If we do that, the chances of getting the four points will increase.”

While tomorrow’s game will not be televised, we will have live updates from our Twitter account @ConnachtRugby.

Tickets are still available for Connacht v Zebre tomorrow from the Connacht Rugby office, online from tickets.ie and in Centra and SuperValu stores province wide.

Tickets start at just €20 for adults, and all children’s’ tickets (4 – 17 years old) are €5.

Please not that an ‘on the day charge’ of €3 will apply to all concession and adult tickets bought at the box office on match day. There is no additional charge for children’s tickets. Click here for more on ticket prices for the 2013/14 season.

Connacht line-up v Zebre                                                                                           

15.          Robbie Henshaw
14.          Fionn Carr
13.          Danie Poolman
12.          Eoin Griffin
11.          Matt Healy
10.          Dan Parks
9.            Kieran Marmion

1.            Brett Wilkinson
2.            Jason Harris-Wright
3.            Nathan White
4.            Michael Swift (captain)
5.            Andrew Browne
6.            John Muldoon
7.            Willie Faloon
8.            George Naoupu


16. Sean Henry
17. Rodney Ah You
18. Ronan Loughney
19. Aly Muldowney
20. Jake Heenan
21. Frank Murphy
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Tiernan O’Halloran



Eoin De Buitléar signs first Professional contract with Connacht Rugby