Tuesday 6 December 2016

Lam aims to maintain Connacht momentum as Henshaw ruled out for six weeks

John Fallon

Published 01/12/2015 | 02:30

Connacht head coach Pat Lam is confident others will step forward and fill the void left as he comes to terms with the loss of Robbie Henshaw
Connacht head coach Pat Lam is confident others will step forward and fill the void left as he comes to terms with the loss of Robbie Henshaw

Connacht coach Pat Lam said he is confident others will step forward and fill the void left as he comes to terms with the loss of Robbie Henshaw for the next six weeks.

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The Irish international suffered a fracture to his left hand in the closing stages of the Saturday’s 18-12 win over Munster at Thomond Park.

Lam said that the injury to the 22-year-old was a big loss but pointed out that his side was on an eight-match winning run and Henshaw had only been available for three of those. He marked his return from World Cup action to score a try against Treviso and he also featured against Brive in the Challenge Cup before setting up the clinching try for Bundee Aki against Munster on Saturday night.

“After Bundee’s try the kick-off went to Robbie and he went up in the air and there was a collision there.

“And when he came down, I think you could see on the video, he is holding his hand. We finished the play, and then straight after the game, we could see that it was blown up,” said Lam.

The Connacht coach, who takes his side to Cardiff this Friday and who will have Challenge Cup games against Newcastle Falcons before Irish derbies at home to Ulster and away to Leinster over the festive period, will also have to do without prop Denis Buckley (ankle sprain) and No 8 Eoghan Masterson (fractured thumb) for the next three weeks.

Lam added: "For us, losing any player is tough. We have had a pretty hard run with injuries, but it is one of those things. What we have been doing as a squad is around team-work and the next guy just steps in.

"Where we are at the moment is based on a squad effort and based on guys coming in. We had eight wins in a row and, the way we look at it, Robbie's played three of those games. We haven't had the same 15 throughout the whole season.

"Probably if I marked out on paper our best 15, we have never been able to put that team out. But that is what rugby is about."

Lam is boosted by the return of Rodney Ah You from New Zealand following the death of the prop's father, while locks Quinn Roux and Ben Marshall, along with No 8 Eoin McKeon, are also available as Connacht bid to hold on to top spot in the Pro12 heading into Christmas.

Henshaw had surgery in Dublin yesterday and is not expected back until mid-January and there was further bad news when it was confirmed that flanker Nepia Fox-Matamua had suffered a ruptured ACL in the Challenge Cup win over Brive and looks set to miss the rest of the season.

"At this stage, there is still a hope that he might make it, but we are preparing to be without him for the season," added Lam, who said that the most encouraging thing was that replacements were slotting right in when another player was injured.

"You look at James Connolly and the way he played. I saw Nepia Fox-Matamua, I saw Jake Heenan. The way that he played the game was fantastic, the way that the guys mentoring, the guys are working together.

"And more importantly the young guys are learning. They are learning fast, because I have got footage of James Connolly when he first started with us, and he wasn't doing those sort of things that he is doing now."

Irish Independent

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