Connacht have named their starting XV that will take on Benetton Treviso in the opening round of their RaboDirect PRO12 season.
Connacht have named the starting XV that will take on Benetton Treviso in the opening round of their RaboDirect PRO12 season in Italy this Saturday.
Gavin Duffy will lead the side out, having been unveiled as Connacht's new captain earlier this week. He is supported on the wings by former Ulster player Mark McCrea and Ireland U20 international Tiernan O'Halloran while the dynamic centre partnership of Henry Fa'aili and Eoin Griffin complete the backline.
Scrum-half Frank Murphy and former Ospreys fly-half Matthew Jarvis renew their half-back pairing following a fine display against Saracens.
Connacht have four players in the pack with more than 100 caps. Flavin, McCarthy and Muldoon have all reached the milestone while Michael Swift is just short of his 200th cap for the province. Ronan Loughney and Ray Ofisa, with 80 and 89 caps respectively, provide plenty more experience with George Naoupu and Rodney Ah You completing the firepower of the forwards.
Last year Connacht and Treviso shared one narrow win each against each other.
Meanwhile, Franco Smith announced many debutants will be on the pitch on Saturday, replacing a dozen players heading to the World Cup in New Zealand.
In the front-row, Augusto Allori is playing tighthead, Michele Rizzo is playing loosehead prop, and Franco Sbaraglini is playing hooker.
Antonio Pavanello and Valerio BernabÃ² are the two locks, while the back row will be Marco Filippucci, Francesco Minto and Manoa Vosawai.
Alberto Chillon is playing scrum-half with Willem De Waal at fly-half.
In the back three, Ludovico Nitoglia is playing full-back and Michele Sepe and Brendan Williams are playing as wingers. The big change is at centre where Andrea Pratichetti and Kristopher Burton play, supporting pivot De Waal.
Form: Each side won its respective home game when Treviso and Connacht met last season, their first two meetings in any competition. Benetton Treviso won two of their last three matches last season, and are looking for a third successive home victory in this RadoDirect PRO12 fixture. Treviso beat three of the four Irish Provinces at home last season (Ulster being the exception). Connacht have won their opening encounter in eight of the past ten seasons. The Irishmen ended their last campaign with three successive defeats but still recorded their best finish since season 2003/04 (9th). Connacht's last seven encounters with Italian opponents in all competitions have all been won by the home side on the day.
Treviso: 15 Ludovico Nitoglia, 14 Michele Sepe, 13 Kristopher Burton, 12 Andrea Pratichetti, 11 Brendan Williams, 10 Willem De Waal, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Marco Filippucci, 5 Valerio BernabÃ², 4 Antonio Pavanello (capt), 3 Augusto Allori, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Diego Vidal, 17 Matteo Muccignat, 18 Pedro Di Santo, 19 Gonzalo PadrÃ², 20 Benjamin Vermaak, 21 Simon Picone, 22 Alberto Di Bernardo, 23 Benjamin De Jager.
Connacht 15 Gavin Duffy (capt), 14 Mark McCrea, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Henry Fa'afili, 11 Tiernan O'Halloran, 10 Matthew Jarvis, 9 Frank Murphy, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Ray Ofisa, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dylan Rogers, 19 TJ Anderson, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Nial O'Connor, 23 Brian Tuohy.
Date: Saturday, September 3
Venue: Stadio di Monigo
Kick-off: 15:00 (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Dudley Phillips
Assistant Referees: Stefano Marrama, Stefano Roscini