Adeolokun deal gives Connacht a much-needed lift amid gloom
Published 13/09/2016 | 02:30
Good news emerged from Galway for the first time this season yesterday as one of the stars of Connacht's Guinness Pro12 triumph signed on for the long haul.
Niyi Adeolokun penned a new contract, committing to the Sportsground until 2019 - news that will be of some solace to the fans who are beginning to wonder if last May was a mirage.
A product of the All-Ireland League who has blossomed in the professional game, Adeolokun summed up all that was good about the Westerners' remarkable rise last year and, as man dubbed "the fastest man in our squad" by Pat Lam, he will play a leading role in lifting the champions out of their early-season malaise.
This weekend, they go to Zebre in need of victory after successive heavy home defeats to Glasgow Warriors and Ospreys.
Such shellackings are unfamiliar to the likes of Adeolokun, who are more used to the good days, but there are a group of senior players who are determined to ensure that the bad old days are not on their way back.
"A lot of the lads in the changing-room are used to winning all the time," said Ireland full-back Tiernan O'Halloran.
"The likes of myself, Mul' (John Muldoon) and Loughs (Ronan Loughney) have been there a good while now and we have tasted these big defeats before in the past.
"You just have to bounce back, you can't get down on yourself. The guys who have been winning all the time, for them it's a bit of a shock to the system but again we just have to back ourselves and stick together as a team.
"We are two games into the season and we are not going to start panicking yet or changing things too drastically.
"We just need to work together and we really need to step up on a few things. Our breakdown especially, we are not getting quick ball that last year we were used to and that's something that we need to work on."
With no points from two home games and a points difference of -57, Connacht need to kickstart their campaign and a trip to Zebre comes at the right time.
"We need to get momentum going," O'Halloran said. "Zebre are going to be looking at that and they will be licking their lips, thinking let's kick them while they are down.
"It is up to us, we have never lost to Zebre. We can't go over there expecting to run in four tries and walk over them. It's a massive game."