The clash with Ulster is the first in the series of Christmas interpros with clashes away to Leinster (Jan 1st) and Munster (Jan 6th) to come.
Tiernan O’Halloran is back in the side at full back and is joined by Niyi Adeolokun and Matt Healy, who scored four tries in Connacht’s win over Brive last weekend. Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion form the half back pairing after Marmion was rested in the win against Brive.
In the pack Denis Coulson comes in at loose head in place of the injured Denis Buckley. He is joined in the front row by hooker Shane Delahunt and Finlay Bealham at tight head. In the back-row flanker Jarrad Butler returns from an injury he picked up in the victory at home to Munster in October.
Connacht have installed additional terracing in the Sportsground to accommodate the ticket demand for the Christmas fixture and Head coach Kieran Keane says he expects the home crowd will be have a bearing on the game. “The crowd have been massive for us so far this season and the place will be in festive spirit on Saturday. That has a huge impact on players. That can create an 8 or 10 point turn around. Just look how the players responded last week and the night we played Munster. We want to recreate that atmosphere and that performance again on Saturday”
(15-9) Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeleokun, Bundee Aki, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy, Jack Carty, Kieran Marmion, (1-8) Denis Coulson, Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Quinn Roux, Eoghan Masterson, Jarrad Butler, John Muldoon (Capt)
Replacements (16-23): Tom McCartney, Peter McCabe, Conor Carey, James Cannon, Naulia Dawai, James Mitchell, Eoin Griffin, Darragh Leader.