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Published: 13:04 | 8/4/16

Connacht make five changes for Grenoble

Coach Pat Lam also makes seven positional changes

Connacht head coach Pat Lam has made five changes to the starting XV for Connacht’s Challenge Cup quarter-final at Grenoble on Saturday night.

Lam has also made seven positional changes from the side that started the 18-10 Pro 12 defeat to Ulster at Ravenhill on 1 April.

Academy star Sean O’Brien starts at openside and new Ireland internationals Finlay Bealham and Ultan Dillane return to the pack, but there is no place for flanker Jake Heenan, who has been ruled out after suffering an ankle injury in training this week.

Scrum-half Kieran Marmion and winger Danie Poolman come into the back line while Matt Healy starts at full-back and Shane O’Leary takes the out-half role.

Ireland international Robbie Henshaw will partner February’s Player of the Month Bundee Aki in centre field.

"We have a few changes to the squad from last week but we are confident that we have a strong team to go over and execute our game plan against Grenoble," Lam said.

"While it was great to welcome Kieran [Marmion] back from injury this week, it was frustrating to lose Jake [Heenan] who we had initially named to start. He was really unlucky to roll his other ankle in training which has ruled him out again."

Connacht will face either Harlequins or London Irish at the Sportsground in the semi-final if they overcome Bernard Jackman's side at the Stade des Alpes.

"We understand the challenge we face travelling to play a confident Grenoble side in their home ground," Lam continued.

"But this is knock-out rugby and we are determined to bring a semi-final home to the Sportsground for our supporters.

"With two teams looking to play an attacking style of rugby, it will come down to the small margins in defence and who can take their opportunities. It’s set up to be a really entertaining game and we’re really looking forward to it."

CONNACHT: Matt Healy; Niyi Adeolokun, Robbie Henshaw, Bundee Aki, Danie Poolman; Shane O’Leary, Kieran Marmion; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham; Ultan Dillane, Andrew Browne; Sean O’Brien, Eoin McKeon, John Muldoon (captain).

Replacements: Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, JP Cooney, Quinn Roux, James Connolly, John Cooney, Peter Robb, Fionn Carr

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