Thursday 25 May 2017

We've prepared well for tricky challenge tonight

Connacht haven’t been home since the high of beating Ulster and Toulouse (Ultan Dillane and Andrew Browne celebrate above). Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht haven’t been home since the high of beating Ulster and Toulouse (Ultan Dillane and Andrew Browne celebrate above). Photo: Sportsfile

Tim Allnutt

We've had a couple weeks without matches, we gave the boys a few days off after the Dragons game, and between last week and this week it was all preparation for Cardiff Blues.

We have a good week's training under our belt now and we are really focused on getting a positive result against Cardiff at the Sportsground this evening.

The break was needed. It gets to a point in the season where we had quite a few on the injury list, bodies were sore and we were relying on the same group of guys to play every week.

Now we have the chance to give those guys a break and refresh a bit, and get a bit of training under the belt as well, without the intensity of a match.

Last week we took part in another community visit when we went out to Carraroe and Clifden. We had a reception in the school and the Connemara All Blacks hosted us as well.

It was great to chat about Connacht's vision of 'Grassroots to Green Shirts', and then touch on mental health and the 'Tackle Your Feelings' campaign. It was a really rewarding experience with the students of Carraroe.

We then had lunch hosted by Connemara RFC in the Clifden Station House Hotel and did some training at the club with young kids from local schools.

It was a great to go to Carraroe for the first time as a squad and then back to Clifden after our first visit a few years ago.

We always talk about who we are representing, but for the likes of Marnitz Boshoff, who is just new into the club, there is no better way to get a feeling about the people and place we represent.

PRIORITY

Our main priority is to train and get the boys focused and ready for up and coming games, but when we get the chance to bring the team out into the province and community, we take it.

It's a truly unique place here in the west of Ireland and the landscape itself is just really impressive. It was a beautiful drive out and an eye-opening experience for the guys who had not seen anything like it before.

But it's back to business now this week. After the highs of beating Ulster and Toulouse in successive weeks, we haven't been at home for a long time after those two wins and it was a tough period for us.

We had three away games in a row, and then that adds up to five weekends without a game at home. Ideally you would want to have an away game, followed by a home game, and continue on like that. But the way the competitions are structured it doesn't always work out in your favour.

But even with that length of time away from the Sportsground, it hasn't dampened the appetite of the supporters. Going by the ticket sales there will be another full house here this evening which, in the past, would have been unheard of on an international weekend and at this time of year.

Our people in commercial and marketing have done one hell of a job to keep selling so many tickets and packages for these games.

It's been a great organisational effort all round. The boys love playing at home, and with the last few victories, the atmosphere was rivalling that of the Glasgow games at the end of last season.

Hopefully we can get that atmosphere cranked up again against Cardiff, and then the players can give the supporters a performance they can be proud of.

We are coming into a crucial part of the season and to get as many fit guys back on the field as possible is huge. Some of the guys that are coming back have been out for a while and it gives the squad a huge boost. We are all looking forward to seeing them back in action.

There are some huge games coming up and everyone is creating more competition now to get the jersey. That can only be a good thing. We saw it all week in training and now we just want to see it on the field against the Blues tonight.

Irish Independent

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