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Connacht Rugby's head coach Andy Friend says he was "gutted" scrumhalf Kieran Marmion missed out on making the final 31 of Joe Schmidt's World Cup squad.
Connacht Rugby has been given a reasonable chance of seizing silverware in the Pro14 next season after bookmakers released odds for the 2019/20 campaign. Defending champions Leinster are understandably the favourites to win the trophy, but only four teams have shorter odds than Andy Friend’s men. Munster, Glasgow and Ulster are all tipped to challenge for glory, but Connacht are next in line at 20/1 along with Scarlets and Ospreys.
Here we were last week, extolling the marvellous spring weather, birds singing, sun shining, everyone in good humour, and this week, as I compile this column, snow is actually falling outside. Now, of course it’s dissolving into rain as it hits the ground, but imagine, such changes in temperature. Last week one day it was 17.5 degrees when I was out in the car, and today, in the same car going to the same place, it is 4.5 degrees. If it’s variety you want in your weather, we’ve got it in here in Ireland in spades. I expect that this harsh weather will not last for long, at least I hope it won’t. But what a contrast! The old wives tale says ‘Ne’er cast a clout till May be out’, and it seems those wise saws were right.
Connacht coach Andy Friend believes his team have what it takes to make the Champions Cup after watching them destroy a hapless Dragons side on Saturday. James Cannon and Colby Fainga’a scored their first tries for the province in a 33-12 bonus point win that carried them up to fifth in the Pro14 Conference A table. Seven Pro14 teams qualify for the Champions Cup and Friend reckons his squad can kick on and grab one of the spots. They are certainly benefiting from the impact of Australian imports David Horwitz and Fainga’a and optimism currently abounds.
Connacht's heavy hitters are expected to return this week for a pivotal Pro14 fixture against Ospreys in Wales.
Connacht’s heavy hitters are expected to return this week for a pivotal Pro14 fixture against Ospreys in Wales.
One seasonal ambition missed; another big one remaining. Connacht's exit from the European Champions Cup is tough to take, but it will be even harder if Connacht fail to be back in the competition next season.
Connacht, a little more positive on the injury front, face familiar Italian foes Zebre in the Galway Sportsground's final Champions Cup pool fixture this season.
Connacht's hopes of retaining their Guinness Pro 12 title took a nosedive after poor festive results, and it does not look any rosier with a deepening injury crisis ahead of Saturday's visit to the Ospreys in Wales.