Connacht ready to refocus on Pro 12

Connacht return to action in the Rabodirect Pro 12 on Sunday desperate to refocus on moving up the league table.

Currently at the bottom, and having suffered a humiliating defeat to Saracens in the final Heineken Cup pool match, Connacht need to turn their season around, and it must start against Glasgow in Scotstoun on Sunday (2pm ).

The victory over Toulouse will always be a wonderful achievement, but it will quickly fade unless Connacht can find that form again - and on a consistent basis. Unfortunately the most recent loss against the English premiership leaders has demonstrated the flip side - one that Connacht Rugby had hoped was well in the past.

After an initial debrief in London immediately after the Saracens fixture, Connacht revisited it again this week before “signing off”.

“The break was timely,” says Connacht coach Pat Lam. “The most important thing is we have now drawn a line under Saracens.

“If you look at our season and where we have come from, there has been a lot of progress. The high was Toulouse and the low was Saracens. What it came down to was guys not doing their jobs, missing tackles, turning ball over, being out of the system, playing as individuals.

“But, as I said to the players, that 40 minutes, although embarrassing, does not define who we are. It is more about who we are now. It is just so disappointing we chose the biggest game in Connacht’s history not to show up.”

“The players have talked about accountability and the same message has come through, teamwork and being accountable, and everyone has signed off on it.”

Lam says the squad has set new goals for the remainder of the season, starting with next series of four games.

“Realistically we know there are four games we can win, we believe we can. We cannot worry too much about other teams, we have to get ourselves right, and if we don’t, then everything is more difficult.”

Glasgow will be missing a host of players on international duty this weekend - 11 of last weekend’s 23 were from Glasgow - but with a squad of more than 50 players, Lam says Glasgow have the numbers to rotate players every week.

In contrast Lam is missing key forward personnel, including captain Craig Clarke. The New Zealander has been forced to take an “indefinite” break as a result of concussions suffered over the last 22 months - some 10 in all and two since arriving in Connacht - the last being against Saracens. Obviously Clarke’s absence and leadership is a big blow to Lam’s side, particularly at this juncture of the season, and it has been compounded this week with the loss of Brett Wilkinson and Sean Henry who will both be out for four weeks with neck injuries. Nathan White is also serving the first of his three-game ban for reckless rucking against Saracens.

However there is some good news with the return of Danie Poolman, Miah Nikora, and Dave McSharry who may line out for either the Eagles against Munster A tomorrow at the Sportsground (2.30pm ) or Connacht on Sunday. It will not be known until later in the week whether Robbie Henshaw currently in Ireland camp is available.

Glasgow, semi-finalists last season, and still very much in the hunt for a top four place again, are difficult to beat in their home ground.

“A tough side. They showed it here against us and they will be raring to go so we know it is a big challenge.”

Glasgow boast the best defensive record in the competition, but one of the worst in scoring points - marginally better than Connacht’s - and any indiscipline will be punished.

Connacht need to find some redemption after the Saracen’s disaster. A win in Glasgow would certainly go some way.


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