Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five changes to the starting side that faced Cardiff Blues for their PRO12 trip to Treviso on Friday.
Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five changes to the starting line-up that faced Cardiff Blues for their PRO12 trip to Treviso on Friday.
In the same week that he signed a Connacht Academy contract, 20-year-old Shane Delahunt has been handed his first PRO12 start at hooker after coming on from the bench in the last two rounds. Having come through the Leinster underage system, Delahunt was included in the 2014 U20’s Six Nations squad and earned his first cap against Scotland U20’s in January of this year.
The young hooker starts in an all-new front-row this week with September Player of the Month, Denis Buckley, and Ireland-capped tighthead prop Rodney Ah You both called upon for the game.
In the back-row, Galway man Eoin McKeon is named at openside flanker while the only change to the backs sees Matt Healy start on the left wing while Danie Poolman is included amongst the replacement backs along with Dave McSharry and Ian Porter.
“We’ve made a few changes to the pack for our game against Treviso,” said Lam.
“We travel this week without Nathan (White) who just missed out due to a minor neck strain. Rodney (Ah You) and Denis (Buckley) return to start and are charged with looking after young Academy forward Shane Delahunt who earns his first start.
It’s a fantastic opportunity for Shane who has come off the bench the last two games for a few minutes. Without the injured hookers Jason (Harris-Wright) and Sean (Henry) as well as the wait for Tom (McCartney) from his Auckland commitments, Shane joined the squad in pre-season and we have been very impressed with his attitude and work ethic.”
Lam added: “Treviso are a tough team to play away, especially up front where they will look to disrupt us. We showed last season at Stadio Monigo what can happen to us when we don’t play as a team and we haven’t let ourselves forget that in our preparations this week.
“Treviso will be looking for their first win of the season and at home in front of their home crowd but it’s up to us to ensure the focus is on getting our processes right in order to carry on the winning momentum from the start of the season.”
Meanwhile, Treviso coach Umberto Casellato has also made changes to his side as Michele Campagnaro moves to wing, with Luca Morisi in at outside centre alongside Enrico Bacchin.
Sam Christie takes the number ten shirt and will be paired with scrum-half Edoardo Gori.
In the forward pack, Matteo Zanusso returns at loosehead while Albert Anae debuts on the replacements bench. Corniel Van Zyl is in the second-row in place of captain Antonio Pavanello.
Further back, Italy flanker Alessandro Zanni returns from injury.
Form: Benetton Treviso have lost their last eight Guinness PRO12 encounters since beating Newport Gwent Dragons at Stadio Monigo on 12th April, a run which has seen them attain just one league point. The Italians have not beaten Irish opposition since this equivalent fixture against Connacht in round 5 last season. Connacht’s only defeat in the Guinness PRO12 so far this season came at table-topping Glasgow in round 4. Connacht’s only win in their last five away games was 14-13 against Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield in round 2. The Irishmen have won their last four encounters with Italian opponents in all tournaments. Both sides won their respective home game when the two teams met last season, whilst Connacht’s only previous victory in their four previous visits to Stadio Monigo came in September 2011.
Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Enrico Bacchin, 11 Michele Campagnaro, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Mat Luamanu, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl (c), 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matteo Zanusso.
Replacements: 16 Amar Kudin, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Romulo Acosta, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Tomas Vallejos Cinalli, 21 Francesco Minto, 22 Simone Ragusi, 23 Alberto Lucchese.
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Eoin McKeon, 6 John Muldoon (c), 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Ian Porter, 22 Dave McSharry, 23 Danie Poolman.
Date: Friday, October 10
Kick-off: 20:00 local (19:00 BST)
Venue: Stadio Monigo
Referee: David Wilkinson (IRFU, 28th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Marius Mitrea, Andrea Spadoni (both FIR)
Citing Commissioner: Stefano Marrama (FIR)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (FIR)