Connacht will be without Josh Murphy and Dylan Tierney-Martin for Friday's Challenge Cup trip to Brive.

Murphy is following return-to-play protocols after suffering a head injury in the win over Newcastle Falcons while Tierney-Martin is being assessed for an elbow injury.

Byron Ralston is available after recovering from a shoulder knock while Ireland wing Mack Hansen, who suffered a leg injury against Benetton earlier this month, is due to return to full training next week ahead of Connacht’s interprovincial derbies against Ulster and Leinster on 23 December and 1 January respectively.

With two crucial BKT United Rugby Championship fixtures on the horizon, Connacht director of rugby Andy Friend will again rotate his squad against Brive, who have lost eight games in a row and were hammered 41-0 by Cardiff in round one.

Mack Hansen is expected to make his Connacht return against Ulster

"We've stated, and I’ll say it again, we want to get to the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup," said Friend, whose side have won five of their last seven matches. "If we can do that and have home-ground advantage [in the knockout stages], even better.

"We know it’s a tough task going over to France. Brive are a struggling side at the moment but they’re a proud side and have played some rugby this year and in previous years. It’s really important we continue that momentum."

Friend has regularly rotated his side this season and while he has not always been happy with their performances, Connacht have continued to pick up victories.

The Australian made 12 changes for the 22-8 win against Newcastle and believes a change in selection policy is paying off.

"There has certainly been a change to last year when we didn’t do anywhere near as much rotation," said Friend. "That’s working for us this year.

"I’ll pay Pete Wilkins a compliment there, he’s managing that squad well. The way we work it is Pete selects the team, he needs to show it to me but he’s got really good logic behind the way he’s selecting that side at the moment. Most players are getting a chance.

"Whenever you announce a 23, with a squad of 44, there’s always going to 21 blokes who aren’t so happy. But most are very aware we are looking to give opportunities to everybody."

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