Preview: Northampton v Connacht

Date published: May 19 2017

The Northampton Saints team has been named for Saturday’s European Rugby Champions Cup qualifier against Connacht.

There are just the two changes to the starting line-up from the Premiership clash with Harlequins.

Both are in the pack, with Christian Day and Teimana Harrison both returning to the team.

Ireland internationals Niyi Adeolokun, Ultan Dillane and Matt Healy have all returned from injury to feature in Connacht’s match day squad.

Head coach Pat Lam has made seven personnel changes for the knockout game in Franklin’s Gardens.

Adeolokun starts on the right wing while Danie Poolman moves in to partner Craig Ronaldson for a rare start in the centres.

Dave Heffernan and Finlay Bealham are both promoted to the front row in a week that also saw them named in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the Summer Tour.

Sean O’Brien and Jake Heenan start in the back row with captain John Muldoon at number 8.

Ruled out through injury since February, Dillane and Healy are both in line to make an appearance from the bench tomorrow.

Commenting on tomorrow’s game, head coach Pat Lam said:

“Everything over the past few weeks has been geared towards this game. We know we haven’t been anywhere near our best in the last few matches and that’s been a big disappointment for us as a team.

We’ve had a very positive week on and off the training pitch but we all know that the eighty plus minutes from 4pm tomorrow is when it needs to count.”

Northampton: 15 Ahsee Tuala, 14 Ben Foden, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Luther Burrell, 11 George North, 10 Harry Mallinder, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Teimana Harrison, 6 Jamie Gibson, 5 Christian Day, 4 Courtney Lawes, 3 Kieran Brookes, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Alex Waller
Replacements: 16 Mikey Haywood, 17 Campese Ma’afu, 18 Gareth Denman, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Tom Wood, 21 Lee Dickson, 22 Sam Olver, 23 Rory Hutchinson

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Sean O’Brien, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Quinn Roux, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 JP Cooney, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 John Cooney, 23 Matt Healy

Date: Saturday, 20 May
Venue: Franklin's Gardens
Time: 16:00 local (14:00 GMT)
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Ludovic Cayre (France)
TMO: Eric Gauzins (France)