Connacht front row players Ethienne Reynecke and Rodney Ah You will feature in today’s Connacht Eagles fixture against Munster A at the Galway Sportsground (3pm ).
Neither hooker Reynecke nor prop Ah You have featured in Connacht’s two pre-season friendlies due to toe and hamstring injuries respectively, and coach Eric Elwood will hope the two come through today’s challenge ahead of Connacht’s Pro 12 opener on September 1.
Elwood has a host of injuries to first-choice players at present - Nathan White, scrumhalves Frank Murphy and Paul O’Donoghue, centres Eoin Griffin and Kyle Tonetti, Brian Murphy, and Danie Poolman, and new signing Dan Parkes, while also missing currently are the four New Zealand tour players, Mike McCarthy, Gavin Duffy, Ronan Loughney, and Brett Wilkinson.
In addition to Reynecke and Ah You, Eagles manager Nigel Carolan has included several senior players in his starting squad, including James Loxton, Mark McCrea, Matthew Jarvis, Mick Kearney, TJ Anderson, and Eoghan Grace.
Given Elwood’s injury list all players will be considered for the opening league fixture against Cardiff and need competitive game time.
The Eagles will also feature up-and-coming youngsters Shane Leydon, Tadgh Leader, Danny Qualter and Conor Finn.
As a result, when Connacht completed their pre-season fixtures against Heineken Cup rivals Harlequins with a 45 - 11 defeat at the Stoop, coach Eric Elwood was more concerned with his players coming through this final challenge unscathed.
"The key for us was to give the younger players experience and that is always a plus. We have no complaints. We were playing the English champions at nearly full strength, and we had a lot of kids out and were missing 12 players," he says.
“Our main concern now is to assemble our starting day squad for Cardiff as soon as possible. I will be talking to Declan Kidney this week in the hopes of having our four tour players because we need them with the injuries we have, and then everything is geared towards September 1."
Quins led 26 - 6 at half time on Saturday and added a fifth try immediately after the break to seal the victory.
"The two tries before the break and the one straight after killed us off. But it is nothing to stress about. Quins were at a different level. We had a lot of kids out there and it was step up in class.”
Young centre Robbie Henshaw, who last season won a Connacht Senior Schools Cup with Marist Athone, was "outstanding", scoring Connacht's only try on his senior debut from a charge down after 46 minutes.
Connacht Eagles XV: S Leydon, J Loxton, M McCrea, T Leader, C Finn, M Jarvis, M Walsh, F Bealham, E Reynecke, R Ah You, M Kearney, D Qualter, TJ Anderson, E Grace, J Gardiner. Replacements, K O’Byrne, P Reilly, J Dever, D Heffernan, A Conneely, B Digbyt, D Leader, S Macauly, F Gormley.
Munster A: L O’Dea; R O’Mahony, I Dineen, S Scanlon, AN Other; JJ Hanrahan, G Hurley; D Kilcoyne, D Casey, J Ryan; P Donnellan, D O’Shea; B Hayes, B O’Mahony, S Buckley. Replacements: J Cronin, G Slattery, C Condon, E Kelly, S Rennison, N Cronin, J Holland, C Hircock, C Bohane, R Mullane.