Newport Rugby have resigned back row man Joe Powell and taken Bristol
Shoguns wing Luke Nabaro on loan for the rest of the season.
Hot on the heels of the decision by Wales A flanker Alix Popham to invoke
a clause in his contract to allow him to leave Rodney parade in December and join Leeds Tykes, Newport have moved to take Powell back from Swansea.
Meanwhile, the Newport coaches Leigh Jones and Richard Hill have made nine
changes to the side that fell to Glasgow last weekend for Friday night's
clash with unbeaten Connacht in the Celtic League.
England Under 21 wing Alex Cadwallader and former Cross Keys lock Matthew
Veater will make their full debuts for the club in Galway. Cadwallader has
recovered from a hamstring strain in order to take his place on the left
wing in place of Andrew Wagstaff as one of four changes behind the scrum.
With Jason Strange ruled out with a groin strain, Shane Howarth moves from
full back to outside half and Matt Pini returns to duty in the No 15
jersey. Scott Williams is named as the centre partner to Andy Marinos.
He takes over from Hal Luscombe, while Wales A centre Jon Pritchard is out
for another two months after fracturing a bone in his right foot during his
comeback game against Glasgow.
In the pack, Rod Snow makes his first start of the season at loose head
prop following the injury sustained by Ceri Jones midway through the first-
half against Glasgow. Jones is likely to be sidelined for up to two months
after breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbone.
Veater will make his debut in the second row with club captain Simon
Raiwalui as Mike Voyle is given a well deserved rest. There are also
changes in the back row. Alix Popham takes over from Steve Ojomoh on the
blindside and Gareth Gravell gets his first start of the season ahead of
No 8 Andy Powell has been ruled out with a shoulder injury, so either Ojomoh
or Forster will take that position.
"It promises to be a tough trip for us to Connacht. Not only did they beat
us at Rodney Parade last season, but they have won all three games to date
in the Celtic League," said Newport team manager Jim McCreedy.
"Leigh and Richard have been forced to make a number of changes due to
injuries, but we all feel this team can be competitive enough to bring a
first win of the season."
Connacht's match winning full back at Leinster last week, Mark McHugh, will
miss the game against Newport because he is on World Cup duty with Ireland
That means Irish Under 21 cap James Norton will make his debut for Connacht
as the only change to the starting line-up from the team that overcame the
inaugural Celtic League champions in Dublin.
NEWPORT RUGBY: Matt Pini; Matt Mostyn, Andy Marinos, Scott Williams, Alex
Cadwallader; Shane Howarth, Ofisa Tonu'u; Rod Snow, Paul Young, Chris
Anthony, Matthew Veater, Simon Raiwalui (captain), Alix Popham, Gareth
Gravell, Steve Ojomoh/Jason Forster.
Replacements: Adrian Garvey, James Richards, Mike Voyle, Jason
Forster/Steve Ojomoh, Andy Wagstaff, Michael Hook, Llyr Lane.
CONNACHT: James Norton; Ted Robinson, Darren Yapp, Tim Allnutt (captain),
Wayne Munn; Eric Elwood, Chris Keane; Dan McFarland, Jerry Flannery, Peter
Bracken, Warick Waugh, Rowan Frost, Michael Swift, Colm Rigney, John
Replacements; Ronan McCormack, Marnus Uijs, Eri Peters, John O'Connor,
Shane Moore, Dermot O'Sullivan, Owen Reddan.
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference