Saturday 1 October 2016

Connacht stars set to return for Glasgow showdown as the westerners push for home semi-final

Published 03/05/2016 | 14:23

Bundee Aki
Bundee Aki

Bundee Aki and Matt Healy have returned to the Connacht squad for their last regular season game against Glasgow Warriors as the western province look to bounce back from their shock defeat to Treviso to earn a home Guinness Pro12 semi-final.

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The return of star man Aki and top try scorer Healy will give Pat Lam’s side a significant lift for the top two clash as they look to finish a historically successful season on a high.

Nathan White’s concussion issues continue to keep him out, while Denis Buckley remains on the injury list with his broken ankle, but Craig Ronaldson is also back in the mix as he returns to training and Finlay Bealham returns after sitting out the trip to Italy.

Aki has been outstanding all season, but there were fears the knee problem he encountered in the win over Munster might have kept him out for the rest of the season.

Instead, he returned to training yesterday having missed the narrow loss to Treviso.

“Bundee is all good, recovered. He's jumping around, jumping off the walls, ready to go,” Lam confirmed.

“It's a big boost, without a doubt. We all saw what happened, he's a tough character.

“But, he was even trying to get to Treviso even though he couldn't train. He said 'I'll be right, I'll be right', but it's just exciting for him.

“Everyone wants to be playing at this point of the season, it's a good boost that he's there, touch wood, hopefully... the last seven or eight selections I've named the team early and it doesn't get to the start-line.

“Hopefully everyone gets there this week.”

The head coach of the league’s second placed side is confident his team won’t let the disappointment of Friday night’s surprise result shake them for this week’s crucial clash.

“There were a lot of positives. When we sat down and had a look at it, I would say that we probably blew about seven tries. The positive I see is that we created the opportunities to score seven tries,” he said.

“Treviso had a hunger that maybe we were missing.

“We had some good parts, but they wanted it more - definitely. We probably didn't finish our opportunities, but all in all we came out of there and said 'lets look at all the positives. The outcome, we didn't get, but we now sit here as only one of two teams that are guaranteed semi-final rugby and we now also know that our destiny is in our hands.

“We win with a bonus point, we finish top of the league. We come off at full-time and that's it done and dusted.

“We win the game, we're guaranteed second at least depending on other (Leinster's) result, but we're guaranteed a home semi.”

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