Saturday 10 December 2016

McCartney believes Connacht can bounce back

John Fallon

Published 08/01/2016 | 02:30

Tom McCartney (Photo: Sportsfile)
Tom McCartney (Photo: Sportsfile)

Connacht hooker Tom McCartney is confident his side can bounce back from a run of three straight defeats in the Pro12 to win for the first time at Parc y Scarlets on Sunday.

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Despite their poor recent form, Pat Lam's men remain third in the table just two points behind Scarlets who are top.

Connacht have not won in seven visits to the venue and Scarlets romped to a four-try 32-14 victory when these sides last met at Parc y Scarlets last season.

McCartney was the starting hooker that day, and even though his side have slipped recently, the 30-year-old believes they can pick it back up in west Wales.

"Obviously it's good to have momentum and to be winning games, but no one's panicking in the camp or anything like that. We definitely back ourselves to go to Scarlets and get a result.

"It is just about going back to process, look at the Leinster game see what we did well, see what we could have done a bit better. Then build into the next game.

"We have had a couple of losses but you just have got to pinch yourself. It is such a long way to go in the season that you just can't get bogged down with results like that and build on to the next week. There are five points up for grabs and if we are good enough then we can go and get them," he said.

McCartney has not featured in the Challenge Cup yet this term, and last week's clash with Leinster was his first game since the Round 7 clash with Treviso on November 6.

The Auckland native scored his first try for the province that day before he went off injured, and he has played 27 times for Connacht since he joined from Super Rugby franchise Blues at the start of last season.

However, injury has hampered his efforts to become the first-choice hooker at the province, and he was delighted to return from his latest, a hamstring strain, against Leinster last time out.

"It was a pretty long road back from injury. I was eight weeks out, so the lungs were definitely feeling it against Leinster," he said.

"No matter how much running do you just can't replicate that rugby fitness. There were a few times I was looking up at the clock seeing how long we had to go, but it's good to get the first one under the belt."

Meanwhile, Connacht skipper John Muldoon has signed a new contract to extend his stay at the Sportsground until the end of next season. The 33-year-old Portumna native has been part of the furniture for the westerners since making his debut in 2004, making a record 260 appearances for the province.

"It was very easy for me to sign on for another year," he said. "I love this place, and I couldn't imagine playing anywhere else now. Connacht has changed immeasurably since I started out but every year we have been building and I've just loved being a part of it."

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