Connacht coach Michael Bradley is upping the ante on his players ahead of tomorrow’s Magners League meeting with Glasgow at the Galway Sportsground (6.30pm ).
The Connacht boss says it is a winnable game against a side they defeated in Galway last season.
“It is the first of the games we would have targeted. Glasgow will be aware of that, but hopefully we can get our first points of the season in front of our own supporters,” he says.
“That, of course, brings its own pressure, but it’s a good target in that it is achievable.”
It will be interesting to see how Connacht respond to that pressure. Connacht, having been on the receiving end of two defeats - admittedly against Wales’ two top teams - means Connacht are once again struggling at the bottom of the table. Tomorrow’s match, however, is a different scenario, and Connacht will need to produce a positive response in front of their home supporters, and realise some of the potential they showed during pre-season.
To this end Bradley is holding off naming his team until today. He does have a few niggling injuries after a physical encounter with the Scarlets, but he will also be adding to the players’ anticipation. Ian Keatley, Keith Matthews, Gavin Duffy, Ronan Loughney, and Ray Ofisa all took knocks, while Michael Swift is one definite casualty from that encounter. Back from injury, however, are Johnny O’Connor, John Hearty, and Robbie Morris, and if all are passed fit, expect those three to making the starting XV, while Andy Dunne also comes back into the squad with Troy Nathan dropping out.
Some of the back line will be asking questions of their defence after leaking seven tries against the Scarlets, and that, along with an improvement in their tactical kicking, will certainly be high on the agenda this week against a Glasgow three-quarters that is renowned for its ability to counter-attack.
Fourteen of the Glasgow squad have been named in Frank Hadden’s Scotland squad for the autumn internationals, but they are beatable. Last season Connacht should have put them away in Firhill but still grabbed a bonus point in their 15-16 loss. However they turned it around in November to take the spoils in a tight game by 10 - 6.
Connacht captain John Muldoon says tomorrow’s visit of Glasgow is a key game.
"It is a massive match and one we must win. We were very disappointed with our performance away to the Scarlets and we want to correct that.
"We are now in our own backyard and we want to show our fans what we can do. Glasgow are a very good side - they have 15 or 16 internationals in their squad -but this is one we need to win, and with the crowd behind us we can do that."
Connacht squad: F Carr, L Bibo, G Duffy, K Matthews, J Hearty, I Keatley, F Murphy, B Wilkinson, S Cronin, R Morris, M McCarthy, A Farley, J Muldoon, J O’Connor, C Rigney, R Loughney, A Flavin, A Browne, R Ofisa, K Campbell, A Dunne, A Wynne, B McGovern, M Deane. Not considered due to injury: Tim Donnelly (shoulder ), David Gannon (foot ), Conor O'Loughlin (hip ), Daniel Riordan (hamstring ), Michael Roberts (calf ), Michael Swift (leg ).
• The best of Connacht’s underage teams will be in action on Saturday with three interprovincial matches taking place at the Galway Sportsground. The Connacht u-18s (1pm ), u-19s (5pm ), and u-20s (3pm ) will be taking on their Ulster counterparts.