Scrum-half Caolin Blade is set to captain Connacht for the first time as his side take on Sale in the European Challenge Cup on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

With Jack Carty rested after playing seven games in a row, Blade will form a half back partnership with Academy player Conor Fitzgerald who made his debut off the bench in the win over Bordeaux-Begles last weekend.

Connemara man Colm De Buitléar is named on the wing in what will also be his first competitive start for his province.

 The back line is also boosted by the return of centre Tom Farrell who forms a midfield partnership with Kyle Godwin.

 Tiernan O’Halloran also returns from injury to take his place at full back. He is part of a back three that includes twenty year old De Buitlear and Niyi Adeolokun on the opposite wing.

In the forwards, the experienced Denis Buckley returns at loosehead alongside hooker Shane Delahunt and Conor Carey at tighthead. Behind them will be Irish international Ultan Dillane and James Cannon.

In the back row, Paul Boyle moves to blindside while openside Colby Fainga’a and Robin Copelandat number 8 are both retained.

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