Injuries take their toll as Connacht name just 22 men for their trip to Newcastle

Pat Lam has been forced to name a reduced squad after an injury in training.

Pat Lam, Connacht, rugby, Ireland,

Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Pat Lam has had to make do with a squad of just 22 players as he prepares his charges for the trip to take on the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday. 

Connacht travel to the Kingston Stadium in the Eruopean Challenge Cup this weekend, but will have to make the journey without a complete squad. 

An injury to Ronan Loughney has meant that he has just nine fit and available backs, while Lam makes seven personnel and four positional changes from the starting side that defeated the premiership club seven days ago.

Speaking about the squad, Lam said "initially we had 23 players named for this weekend with eight front rowers included but unfortunately we lost Ronan Loughney at training today when he pulled up with a minor back injury. So although we are down to just nine fit backs in our European squad, we have 22 players traveling who have brought a real intensity to training this week. They understand our team work and work ethic will give us the best chance to stay unbeaten in the competition".

Lam's team includes 22-year-old outhalf Shane O'Leary who will get his first start in a Connacht shirt this weekend, while Caolin Blade is retained at scrum half.

O'Leary isn't the only new name in the team either, as 19-year-old Academy prop Conan O'Donnell has been handed his first senior start, having made seven appearances from the bench this season

Having scored a try last week, Danie Poolman becomes the fifth player to wear the number 15 shirt for the westerners this season, moving from his more regular position on the wing.

The squad in full is:

(15-9) Danie Poolman, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Craig Ronaldson, Niyi Adeolokun, Shane O'Leary, Caolin Blade 

(1-8) Conan O'Donnell, Jason Harris-Wright Rodney Ah You, Danny Qualter, Andrew Browne, Sean O'Brien, Eoghan Masterson, George Naoupu (captain)

Replacements:

(16-22) Shane Delahunt, Finlay Bealham, Saba Meunargia, Aly Muldowney, Dave Heffernan, Ian Porter, Jack Carty