Connacht head coach Andy Friend has made three changes to the team for today's game against Leicester Tigers. Photo: Sportsfile

Three changes for Connacht for visit of Leicester Tigers

The Connacht side to face Leicester Tigers today (kick-off 3.15 p.m.) has been named, with Andy Friend’s side aiming to go one step closer to a first appearance in the knockout stages of the Heineken Champions Cup.

There are three changes from the side that defeated Munster on New Year’s Day in the URC. Two of those come in the tight five, where Shane Delahunt starts at hooker and Niall Murray comes into the second row. Props Matthew Burke, a Ballinrobe native, and Finlay Bealham retain their places, as does lock Oisín Dowling.

The back row as well as the half-back and centre pairings are all unchanged. Jarrad Butler is at number eight, with flankers Cian Prendergast and Conor Oliver alongside him, while Jack Carty captains the side beside scrum-half Kieran Marmion. Bundee Aki and Sammy Arnold start at 12 and 13 respectively.

The final change is in the back three, where Connacht’s all-time record try scorer Matt Healy comes in for his first appearance of the season, starting on the wing, with John Porch on the opposite wing and Tiernan O’Halloran at full-back.

Among the replacements is Paul Boyle, who has recovered from injury to return to the matchday 23 for the first time since the end of November. Dave Heffernan, from Ballina, is on the replacements' bench also.

Commenting on the team selection, the head coach, Andy Friend, said: “This is a huge game and a huge opportunity for the club, but we’ve been treating this like any other game that we want to win. We’ve grown as a group, even in the last month since we visited Leicester, so now it’s all about executing and playing as well as I know we’re capable of.

“We’ll no doubt miss the few extra thousand supporters who would’ve been at The Sportsground without the current restrictions, but I’m sure those lucky enough to have a ticket will make their voices heard.”