Sunday 25 September 2016

Lam ready to switch Connacht focus to Grenoble task

Ruaidhri O'Connor and Cian Tracey

Published 04/04/2016 | 02:30

Connacht head coach Pat Lam Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Connacht head coach Pat Lam Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Connacht have been demanding our attention all season and this week there is no choice but to focus on the western province as they become Ireland's sole representatives in Europe.

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As Leinster, Munster and Ulster begin plotting for their final three games in the Guinness Pro12, giving some players a rest and others extra homework, Pat Lam will gather his troops in Galway today and dust off the game-plan he and his coaching team have already prepared for Grenoble.

They go to the foothills of the Alps to take on Bernard Jackman's side, who beat Oyonnax 27-20 on Saturday, with a lengthy injury list, although they managed not to add to that during a bruising 80 minutes in Belfast that should stand to them in the Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Afterwards, Lam revealed that the injury that ruled Tiernan O'Halloran out of that game is likely to keep the full-back out for five weeks, but Kieran Marmion may return for the quarter-final.

"You get injured, the next guy comes in," Lam said as he refused to use injury as an excuse.

"The big one is that it's a final. Win and you're through, lose and you're out of the competition; so the coaches have done a lot of work on the Grenoble game-plan and we're ready to have a good week's training and get over there.

"It's a tough ask, going over to France, but I think we've shown in the past it's something we can handle."

Connacht might not have left Kingspan Stadium with any points after an 18-10 defeat, but they denied Ulster a try-scoring bonus with a 13-man defensive hold-out that should fill Lam's side with confidence.

"We don't talk about moral victories or losses, the outcome is the outcome; what we talk about is what we did well and what we did so well," he said.

"There's a lot of things that we'll look back and say: 'that was good', the defence at the end was a reflection of the character of the boys.

Grenoble's win was marred by an incident involving Oyonnax full-back Silvere Tian.

The 35-year old was shown a yellow card for a ruck infringement by Romain Poite but the verbal abuse that followed resulted in the referee brandishing a red card.

After the full time whistle, Tian had to be restrained as he attemped to angrily confront Poite.

A lengthy ban is almost certain to follow for the Ivory Coast international.

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