Sligo’s Stephen Kerins has been named on the replacements bench for the Connacht Eagles team for their opening game of the season this weekend.
The former Irish U20 international out-half will be part of the squad for the British and Irish Cup clash away to Rotherham Titans in Clifton Lane at 2pm tomorrow.
The strong selection includes a mix of senior and Connacht Academy players as Ireland international Niyi Adeolokun and Fiji international Naulia Dawai both return from injury to make their first appearances of the season.
Senior players Stacey Ili, Conor McKeon, JP Cooney and Ireland international hooker Dave Heffernan are also in the starting 15.
The Connacht Academy, sponsored by NUIG, is well represented with Matthew Byrne at full back, Colm de Buitléar on the wing, Kieran Joyce at inside centre, Luke Carty at out-half, Peter Claffey in the second row, and both Paul Boyle and Harley Fox in the back row.
Stacey Ili and Conor McKeon complete the backline.
An all-senior front row sees Dominic Robertson-McCoy and JP Cooney flank Heffernan with lock Gavin Thornbury partnering Claffey in the engine room.
Senior hooker Pat O’Toole is among the replacements alongside Academy players Conor Kenny, Stephen Kerins and Adam Leavy.
Sub-academy out-half Morgan Codyre, Ireland U18 international Cian Huxford and Niall Murray, last year’s Connacht U18 Player of the Year, complete the replacements.
Connacht Eagles: Matthew Byrne; Niyi Adeolokun, Stacey Ili, Kieran Joyce, Colm de Buitléar; Luke Carty, Conor McKeon; Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Dave Heffernan, JP Cooney; Gavin Thornbury, Peter Claffey; Naulia Dawai, Paul Boyle, Harley Fox.
Replacements: Pat O’Toole, Conor Kenny, Niall Murray, Cian Huxford, Stephen Kerins, Morgan Codyre, Adam Leavy.
Connacht Eagles B&I Cup Fixtures
Saturday, October 14
Rotherham v Connacht Eagles, Clifton Lane, 2pm;
Sunday, October 22
Connacht Eagles v Ealing Trailfinders, The Sportsground, 2pm;
Saturday, December 9
Richmond v Connacht Eagles, Athletic Ground, 3pm;
Sunday, December 17
Connacht Eagles v Richmond, The Sportsground, 2pm;
Saturday, January 13
Ealing Trailfinders v Connacht Eagles, Trailfinders Sports Ground, 3pm;
Weekend of Saturday, January 20
Connacht Eagles v Rotherham, The Sportsground, TBC;