Tiernan O'Halloran: Toulouse fear factor is long gone
Published 12/10/2016 | 02:30
Connacht full-back Tiernan O'Halloran believes the Guinness Pro12 champions no longer have a fear factor against Europe's best sides.
The Westerners are in the Champions Cup on their own steam for the first time, having previously qualified as a result of Leinster's success and they open their campaign against Toulouse on Saturday.
This will be the four-time European champions' third visit to Galway. They have never lost away to Connacht, but did suffer a shock home defeat in Pat Lam's first season in charge.
O'Halloran played in Connacht's first Heineken Cup match against the French giants in 2011 and recalls being overawed by the occasion and his illustrious opponents.
Five seasons on, he is confident subsequent success means they'll be ready this weekend.
"The first time we played Toulouse we hadn't had that many games against big teams, we were overawed and didn't put our best foot forward," he said.
"Now, we've had plenty of big games. We have lads who have been capped too, so we have lots of experience in those types of games so hopefully that stands to us.
"They have a lot of experience and X-factor players but I don't think there's that fear factor anymore that these guys can come over and dominate us. There's a real expectation, especially at home, that we're going to win this game."
Lam confirmed that he will be without Tom McCartney, Denis Buckley and Matt Healy until the end of next month, but he hopes Kieran Marmion, Quinn Roux, Peter Robb, Eoin Griffin and Eoin McKeon will be available.