Pat Lam is ready for "finals rugby" when he takes his Bristol team back to Galway on Sunday.

The Heineken Champions Cup's four-game pool phase reaches its halfway point this weekend, and both Bristol and their opponents Connacht have yet to win.

"For us and Connacht, and all the teams that lost in the first round, it’s all on the line this week," Bristol rugby director and former Connacht head coach Lam said.

"It is finals rugby already. You are not guaranteed if you win, but you certainly give yourselves a chance.

"We have made it difficult to get through, but it doesn’t mean you stop trying, because in rugby and sport you never know what is around the corner.

"It’s about growing your ability to handle the pressure as individuals, but also as a team, being able to do things under pressure and when you need to do them."

Pat Lam (L) and Bristol forwards coach John Muldoon were head coach and captain when Connacht won the Pro12 title in 2016

Bristol are boosted by the return from injury of their captain Steven Luatua, who makes his first appearance this season.

Two other changes up-front see starts for prop Kyle Sinckler and lock Dave Attwood, while rugby league recruit Siva Naulago gains a full Bristol debut on the wing.

Andy Friend has brought Bundee Aki and Conor Oliver in to the team that started in last Sunday's losing bonus-point defeat to Racing 92.

The squad features the same 23 players from that day, with Tom Daly and Jarrad Butler named among the replacements.

Connacht went close against last season’s Champions Cup runners-up in Paris six days ago, losing 26-22, and Lam added: "Their performance against Racing didn’t surprise me.

"They are gutsy and never take a backward step. It’s going to require a collective effort from us for 80 minutes – it is a tough challenge."

Follow Leinster v Northampton (Saturday 1pm) and Connacht v Bristol (Sunday 5.30pm) with our live blogs on www.rte.ie/sport or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and RTÉ Radio 1.