Friday 9 December 2016

No regrets for returning Exile Griffin after missing out on title glory

Published 01/09/2016 | 02:30

Connacht's Eoin Griffin Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Connacht's Eoin Griffin Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

When Eoin Griffin decided to leave his home province and spend two seasons with London Irish, he couldn't have imagined what he might miss out on.

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Sure, there had been signs of things to come during Pat Lam's first year in charge, but the Galway native wanted to get away for a few seasons and sample life in the Premiership.

Two injury-hit seasons spent battling relegation later, he is home again and settling into the familiar surrounds of the Sportsground where the faces are largely the same but the big piece of silverware in the trophy cabinet and gold patch sewn on to the jersey mark out the progress the Westerners have made in his absence.

He took in a couple of last season's games on visits home, while he was in constant contact with his mates in the dressing-room, but opted out of travelling to Murrayfield for the final and watched it back in Galway.

And, while he was delighted, he didn't have a sense of missing out on their success.

"I've no regrets, no," the former Ireland U-20 and Emerging Ireland centre said. "Rugby is one part of your life in terms of the grand scheme of things and I would have regretted not going.

Delighted

"As brilliant as everything was here - and I was definitely the No 1 supporter and delighted for everyone - I still enjoyed my time in London and got a lot out of it."

The faces and voices are largely the same in the dressing-room, but Griffin has noted a new-found confidence around the Sportsground.

"It was a bit bittersweet towards the end, seeing how well Connacht were going and how frustrating it was at London Irish," he said. "I got home a couple of times - at Christmas I got to the Ulster game and I got to the Ospreys game too.

"It was funny, just chatting to Eoin McKeon who came over to my house, he was talking through the rest of the fixture list and saying 'Sure we'll beat them; then we'll beat them . . . That's an away game, but we'll beat them. . .'

"My mam and dad were laughing at him, saying 'Jesus, you're fairly confident, anyway'.

"But it's just the way things are now, it's definitely not the underdog anymore. We're looking at games, looking to win as many as we can and we're looking to push for more and more.

"When I was here we spent long enough at the bottom of the table, it's not somewhere I want to go back to."

On Saturday, Griffin is expected to partner Bundee Aki for the first time against Glasgow Warriors and he is determined to ensure he can share in his home province's success.

Irish Independent

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