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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Elwood changes three for Connacht’s Cup debut

Eoin Griffin, John Muldoon and Ray Ofisa all return to the Connacht line-up for tomorrow evening’s game against Harlequins.

Captain Gavin Duffy at Monday's pre-match press conference.
Captain Gavin Duffy at Monday's pre-match press conference.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

ERIC ELWOOD IS looking to Connacht’s experienced heads to lead the forward charge on a historic night of Heineken Cup rugby.

The Westerners make their debut in European rugby’s premier competition against Conor O’Shea’s Harlequins at Twickenham Stoop tomorrow night.

And Elwood has named five provincial centurions — Brett Wilkinson, Adrian Flavin, Mike McCarthy, Michael Swift & John Muldoon – in his pack for the clash against last season’s Amlin Challenge Cup champions.

In the backs, Eoin Griffin has shaken a knock to slot in at outside centre, one of three changes made to the side beaten by Ulster at Ravenhill last weekend.

The youngster’s return sees a further reshuffle in the backs with captain Gavin Duffy switching to full-back and Tiernan O’Halloran moving to his usual spot on the wing.

In the back-row, Muldoon and Ray Ofisa start on the flanks with George Naoupu at number eight.

“I don’t think there will be the need for too many motivational words on the day – it is going to be a massive occasion and we cannot wait,” Muldoon said.

It is a massive challenge for us against the Premiership leaders but, having played them a fair few times in recent seasons, we know pretty much what to expect.

Harlequins named their own starting XV earlier today, making just one change to the side which won away to Bath in the Aviva Premiership last weekend. Chris Brooker returns at hooker in place of Joe Gray.

Harlequins: Brown; Stegmann, Lowe, Turner-Hall, Smith; Evans, Dickson; Marler, Brooker, Johnston, Kohn, Robson, Faasavalu, Robshaw, Easter. Replacements: Gray, Mayhew, Sinckler, Vallejos, Wallace, Care, Urdapilleta, Williams.

Connacht: Duffy; Tuohy, Griffin, McSharry, O’Halloran; Nikora, O’Donohoe; Wilkinson, Flavin, Ah You; Swift, McCarthy; Muldoon, Ofisa, Naoupu. Replacements: Reynecke, Loughney, Rogers, Gannon, Anderson, Murphy, O’Connor, Fa’afili.

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