Connacht Academy out-half Conor Dean is set to make his debut for the province in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster in Thomond Park on Saturday, kick-off 7:35pm.
Dean - son of Triple Crown winning former Irish outhalf Paul Dean - is in the midst of his first year in the Connacht academy, having joined from Leinster at the beginning of the season.
The former Blackrock College student is the seventh player from Connacht's system that Friend has entrusted with a start this season.
Dean will form a half back partnership with Irish international scrum half Kieran Marmion. The back line has further international experience with the midfield partnership of Bundee Aki and former Ireland 7s captain Tom Daly.
In the back three, Stephen Fitzgerald returns to Thomond Park to face his former team mates as he is named on the wing, with Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing and the experienced Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.
Up front, there is good news for Connacht, as tighthead Finlay Bealham has returned from a hand injury to take his place alongside hooker Tom McCartney and Ballinrobe native Matthew Burke at loosehead.
With Connacht having already safely secured passage to the quarter-finals, in which they play Ulster next weekend, Andy Friend is insistent that there is still much to play for this weekend.
He said: "Munster are an outstanding side. We saw that when we played them at home earlier in the season and they have been even better since. There is still a huge incentive for our players.
"We know that these interpro fixtures always bring out the best in our boys and we know that going to Thomond Park is a massive challenge.
"With a quarter final next weekend, we have huge competition in the squad and that is exactly what we need at this stage of the season. This is a big opportunity for everyone involved."
Munster, meanwhile, have made four changes to the team that fell to Saracens in last weekend's Champions Cup semi-final in Coventry.
In the backs, Dan Goggin is named at inside centre, with former Young Munster player Calvin Nash starting on the wing.
Stephen Archer is back in for John Ryan in the front row, while Chris Cloete is named in place of Jack O'Donoghue at flanker.
Johann Van Graan's team could still garner a home semi-final slot but they must beat Connacht and hope Glasgow lose to Edinburgh in Scotstoun.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Dan Goggin, Calvin Nash; Tyler Bleyendaal, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, Stephen Archer; Jean Kleyn, Tadhg Beirne; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Jeremy Loughman, John Ryan, Billy Holland, Arno Botha, Neil Cronin, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold.
Connacht: Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Tom Daly, Stephen Fitzgerald, Conor Dean, Kieran Marmion, Matthew Burke, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Joe Maksymiw, James Cannon, Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler (Capt), Robin Copleand.
Replacements: Shane Delahunt, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, Eoghan Masterson, Paul Boyle, Caolin Blade, Eoin Griffin, Darragh Leader.
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