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Connacht ring the changes for Scarlets clash

Updated: Thursday, 07 Feb 2013 12:56 | Comments

Brett Wilkinson starts for Connacht against the Scarlets
Brett Wilkinson starts for Connacht against the Scarlets

Connacht have made a number of changes to their team to face Scarlets on Friday night in the RaboDirect PRO12 league.

Eric Elwood's side travel to Parc y Scarlets with a very different team to the one that beat Zebre three weeks ago in the Heineken Cup.

Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris Wright and skipper Nathan White make up the front row trio. Replacing Ireland international Mike McCarthy, Mick Kearney starts in the second row alongside Connacht's highest capped player Michael Swift.

December's Player of the Month, Eoin McKeon, returned from injury last week and starts at number 8, joining flankers Andrew Browne and Johnny O'Connor in the back row.

In the backline, Tiernan O'Halloran is named at full back, replacing Robbie Henshaw who is on international duty this week.

Danie Poolman, this season's joint lead try scorer (3), and Fetu'u Vainikolo are named on the wings.

Kyle Tonetti will earn his first start for Connacht this season following a lengthy battle with injury.

The 25-year-old has recovered fully and has been playing with his club Lansdowne RFC over the last number of weeks.

Tonetti joined Connacht last season from Sale Sharks and was ever-present in the squad. He showed his versatility and ability to adapt featuring at inside and outside centre as well as a few games on the wing. Tomorrow night in Wales, he will start at Inside Centre, in a partnership with Eoin Griffin.

The half back pairing of Dan Parks and Kieran Marmion remains. Scrum-half Marmion earns his 20th cap for Connacht tomorrow night and holds the record of the only player to have started every game this season.

On the bench there are some welcome returnees with Willie Faloon and John Muldoon named amongst the forward replacements. Gavin Duffy also returns to the fray and could feature in tomorrow's clash with Simon Easterby's side.

Connacht team to play Scarlets in the RaboDirect PRO12:
Tiernan O'Halloran, Danie Poolman, Eoin Griffin, Kyle Tonetti, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Dan Parks, Kieran Marmion, Brett Wilkinson, Jason Harris-Wright, Nathan White, Michael Swift, Mick Kearney, Andrew Browne, Johnny O'Connor, Eoin McKeon

Replacements: Ethienne Reynecke, Rodney Ah You, Ronan Loughney, Willie Faloon, John Muldoon, Paul O'Donohoe, Miah Nikora, Gavin Duffy

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