Thursday 8 December 2016

Compiled by Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 26/11/2015 | 02:30

Marmion commits

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to Connacht

Connacht have been boosted by news that Kieran Marmion has committed to the province for the next

two seasons.

Linked with a move away to Leinster and Cardiff Blues, the young scrum-half has opted to sign along the dotted line at the Sportsground.

While he has yet to nail down a regular spot with Ireland and missed out on the World Cup, Marmion's next goal must be to break into Joe Schmidt's squad.

Connacht, meanwhile, are fully focused on taking on Munster this weekend. Their captain John Muldoon made his debut at Thomond Park in 2002 and is yet to win at the venue.

"Thomond Park has been a graveyard for Connacht rugby, absolutely no doubt," he said this week. "Would we love to win down there? Absolutely. We beat them in pre-season and I've beaten them a couple of times at underage level. Look, when something doesn't happen too often you cherish those moments."

Worrying rise in Welsh steroid abuse numbers

The spectre of doping in rugby has raised its head again this week as an anonymous amateur player told a BBC Wales documentary that steroid abuse is "off the scale" in amateur and semi-professional rugby in the principality.

Figures from UK anti-doping (UKAD) reveal that 33pc of all sportsmen and women serving doping bans in Britain are players from Wales and the Welsh Rugby Union went as far as issuing a statement warning players about the perils of performance-enhancing drugs last week.

Steroid abuse is a wider societal issue in Wales that has had a major impact on the game at an amateur level, according the WRU chief Martyn Phillips.

"It's a problem in society to start with," he said. "The fact that one player getting banned is one too many as far as I'm concerned. So the challenge for us, not just in rugby but in sport generally, is we've got to try and get it out of the game. I don't think that's going to be easy."

Quote of the day

"When you go to Europe, playing the big guns, you need to be better than pretty good. We need to challenge ourselves and demand more of ourselves to get to where we need to be. We didn't deliver last week and we need to respond in a fashion that we can be proud of."

- Ulster coach Les Kiss's message to his players after Friday's disappointing European defeat to Saracens

Number of the day

199 - John Muldoon will take one step closer to his 200th Guinness Pro12 appearance when he leads Connacht out against Munster on Saturday

Compiled by Ruaidhri O'Connor

Irish Independent

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