Belfast Telegraph

Magners League: Connacht shuffle for Dragons den

By Niall Crozier

Connacht have made a number of positional alterations, plus two personnel changes, for tonight’s Magners League date with Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade (7.35pm).

In an otherwise unchanged pack, hooker Sean Cronin — rested against Leinster under the IRFU’s Player Welfare Management Programme — replaces Adrian Flavin in the starting line-up.

Back row Mike McComish, now recovered from the illness which ruled him out of last weekend’s clash, replaces Shane Conneely on the bench.

Academy star Eoin McKeon’s reward for his fine display last time out sees him retained at No8.

Behind the pack Ian Keatley is included at full-back with former New Zealand Youth player, Troy Nathan, switching to the wing.

Having played in every backline position for the westerners, the Irish-qualified Kiwi has more than proved his worth in accumulating 64 Connacht caps.

Another of Connacht’s Academy graduates, Eoin Griffin, moves to outside centre, with Fionn Carr named on the left wing and Brian Tuohy providing bench cover.

Former Ulster scrum-half Cillian Willis continues in that key pivotal role.

Connacht coach Eric Elwood said: “Obviously the Dragons will be smarting from their defeat over here at the start of the season so we’re expecting to face a backlash.

“It’ll be a difficult task for us — it’s always difficult over there.”

Highlighting the inclusion of Academy players, he added: “We’ve always said that if they’re good enough they’ll get their opportunity.”

CONNACHT: Ian Keatley; Troy Nathan, Eoin Griffin, Keith Matthews, Fionn Carr; Miah Nikora, Cillian Willis; Brett Wilkinson, Sean Cronin, Jamie Hagan; Michael Swift, Michael McCarthy; Andrew Browne, Johnny O’Connor, Eoin McKeon. Replacements: Adrian Flavin, Rodney Ah You, Dylan Rogers, Bernie Upton, Mike McComish, Frank Murphy, Niva Ta’auso, Brian Tuohy

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