Ireland internationals Mack Hansen, Finlay Bealham and Bundee Aki have been included in a 28-man Connacht squad to face the Lions and Sharks in South Africa.
The Irish side are 10th in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and need to win their remaining three games for any hope of making the playoffs.
Flyhalf Jack Carty, who was named captain for the SA trip, says Connacht will look to their experienced members to help close the gap on the URC front-runners.
“There has definitely been a change in the last two weeks in terms of prep and how fellas went about it,” he said. “I suppose when you have a couple of lads away with the international team, you have seen them really step forward in terms of Mack [Hansen], Finlay [Bealham] and Bundee [Aki].
“They have really grabbed certain fellas in their positions. Mack or Finlay have a couple of young fellas in their position, and they have taken them under their wing.
“I suppose the last two weeks have been a tough learning curve for the front rows, but I don’t think they will come up against a tougher front-row opposition [than in SA].”
Full Connacht squad:
Forwards: Jack Aungier, Finlay Bealham, Paul Boyle, Denis Buckley, Jarrad Butler, Oisin Dowling, Jordan Duggan, Leva Fifita, Dave Heffernan, Greg McGrath, Jonny Murphy Niall Murray, Conor Oliver, Cian Prendergast, Gavin Thornbury, Dylan Tierney-Martin. Backs: Bundee Aki, Caolin Blade, Shayne Bolton, Jack Carty, Tom Daly, Tom Farrell, Conor Fitzgerald, Mack Hansen, Kieran Marmion, Tiernan O’Halloran, John Porch, Alex Wootton.