The Blues bounced back from three consecutive defeats in the competition with a hard-fought victory over Benetton Treviso.
A host of the senior squad were rested during the Anglo-Welsh Cup, with Wales’ Capital Region prioritising a top six finish.
As a result head coach Danny Wilson has made 13 changes to the starting line-up that faced the Ospreys a week ago.
Tomos Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey
and Scott Andrews
have all been released from the Wales squad from the autumn internationals and are selected in the match-day 23.
captains the team and he is joined by Josh Navidi
, who has recovered from the injury he suffered last month.
The Blues have an impressive record against Connacht, losing just one of their last six encounters – the corresponding fixture last season.
The Galway-based province, who stormed to their first PRO12 last season have endured a difficult start to the season, with just two wins in the competition, but Cardiff Blues are well aware of the ability they possess.
What they said:
said: “It’s the start of ‘block two’ for us now that includes games against Connacht, Ulster, Bath twice, Dragons and Scarlets over Christmas. It’s a huge block.
“Block one was 10 games of rugby, including two in Europe, and we won seven out of ten games. It was a period that was relatively successful. The disappointments were the couple of derbies we didn’t perform to a level we wanted to.
“We have an opportunity to go to Connacht, the champions, and it would be great for us to pick up a win that we haven’t had there in a while,
“Having said that, we hadn’t won at Treviso, Munster or Zebre in a while and we managed to do that. We will be looking for another away win, but we know it doesn’t get any tougher than Connacht.”
said: “Connacht have obviously not had the best start to the season after last year but they’re still a dangerous team.
“They are special team and play from everywhere. Their ambition is incredible. It paid off last year and they’re still a very dangerous team.
“They have struggled to hit their stride but we know how tough they can be and we won’t be underestimating them when we go out there.”
l said: “It’s a very important game for the group for the boys that are here this week, especially after the win at Treviso. It’s important to use momentum from that win when we head out to Connacht and ensure we climb the table,” said Turnbull.
“A few of the boys had a rest after a busy start to the season, but we were in last week to do work ahead of the game this Friday.
“We’ve been able to look at their gameplan in detail before an important week of training this week and we’ll go there to play our own game.
“They don’t tend to lose too many players to the Ireland squad, but they’re a good, strong team who like to keep the ball in-hand and play from anywhere across the field.”
Overall Guinness PRO12 head to head record
Played 26, Connacht won 4, Cardiff Blues won 20 with 2 games drawn.
Did you know?
- Connacht Rugby have won just two games in the Guinness PRO12 this season, both at home, to Edinburgh and Ulster in rounds 5 and 6 – the only occasions they have scored four tries.
- Connacht have already been defeated by the other three Welsh regions this season.
- Cardiff Blues 34-28 victory in Treviso in round 8 ended a three game losing run in the PRO12.
- The Blues only away defeat in the Championship since March came when they visited Ospreys on 7 October.
- Cardiff Blues solitary defeat to Connacht in their last six encounters was 31-36 at The Sportsground in this equivalent fixture in round 3 last season.
Cian Kelleher; Niyi Adeolokun, Bundee Aki, Craig Ronaldson, Stacey Ili; Jack Carty, John Cooney; Denis Buckley, Tom McCartney, Conor Carey; Quinn Roux, James Cannon; Eoin McKeon, Jake Heenan, John Muldoon (capt).
Dave Heffernan, Ronan Loughney, JP Cooney, Lewis Stevenson, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Caolin Blade, Marnitz Boshoff, Danie Poolman.
Dan Fish; Blaine Scully, Rey Lee-Lo, Willis Halaholo, Tom James; Steve Shingler, Tomos Williams; Rhys Gill, Kristian Dacey, Scott Andrews, George Earle, Jarrad Hoeata, Josh Turnbull, Ellis Jenkins (capt), Josh Navidi.
Matthew Rees, Brad Thyer, Taufa'ao Filise, Macauley Cook, Shane Lewis-Hughes, Rhodri Davies, Alex Cuthbert, Matthew Morgan
At Sportsground, 7.35pm Live on TG4
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU, 141st competition game)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (WRU), John Carvill (IRFU)
Citing Commissioner: Eddie Wigglesworth (IRFU)
TMO: Charles Samson (SRU)