Pat Lam retains just three players for visit of Zebre

Bundee Aki is among three players who keep their spot in the starting XV

BY Cian Roche 14:50 Thursday 2 March 2017, 14:50 2 Mar 2017

Image: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Pat Lam has retained just three players for Friday's visit of Zebre to the Sportsgrounds.

Danie Poolman, Niyi Adeolokun and Bundee Aki all keep their starting spots, while Lam has made changes all over the pitch. Poolman will shift from the wing to fullback.

"With a five-day turnaround on the back of our trip to Italy, we had always planned to make changes to the side," Lam said. "This will be a great opportunity for others in the squad to show what they can do.

"Having faced Zebre three times already this season, we know that we can expect a tough, physical challenge. It’s vital that we give them the respect they deserve through our preparation and execution of our own game plan."

Steve Crosbie makes his Connacht debut, with the 24-year-old outhalf starting alongside John Cooney in a new half-back partnership. Tom Farrell and Stacey Ili come in to complete back line.

In the pack, John Muldoon drops to the bench so Tom McCartney is handed the captaincy. Ronan Loughney and Dominic Robertson-McCoy start in the front row. Andrew Browne returns for his first appearance of the year to start alongside Lewis Stevenson in the second row. 

Eoghan Masterson returns to the senior team from a knee injury which has kept him out for the last year. The 23-year-old starts at number 8. Included in the back row are Eoin McKeon and Naulia Dawai.

"I’m delighted to see Eoghan [Masterson] and Andrew [Browne] make their return to match action at home tomorrow night. The team are buzzing for them and we’re really looking forward to being back at the Sportsground."

Connacht team to face Zebre 

15 Danie Poolman (80)
14 Niyi Adeolokun (52)
13 Bundee Aki (54)
12 Tom Farrell (4)
11 Stacey Ili (10)
10 Steve Crosbie (0)
9 John Cooney (34)

1 Ronan Loughney (191)
2 Tom McCartney (58) (captain)
3 Dominic Robertson-McCoy (4)
4 Lewis Stevenson (11)
5 Andrew Browne (148)
6 Eoin McKeon (101)
7 Naulia Dawai (7)
8 Eoghan Masterson (34)

Replacements:

16 Dave Heffernan (78)
17 Denis Buckley (111)
18 Finlay Bealham (75)
19 Quinn Roux (50)
20 John Muldoon (295)
21 Kieran Marmion (115)
22 Craig Ronaldson (61)
23 Tiernan O’Halloran (121)

 

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