Sunday 22 October 2017

Lam urges Connacht to start new year in style

Connacht Head Coach Pat Lam
Connacht Head Coach Pat Lam

John Fallon

Connacht's longest-serving player Michael Swift will be back in action as they bid to score their first win over an Irish province in the Pat Lam era when the Westerners host Leinster on Saturday.

And there is a further boost for Connacht with prop Ronan Loughney also available, while former New Zealand U-20 captain Jake Heenan is also in line to resume having recovered from a shoulder injury.

Full-back Gavin Duffy is a doubt with a shoulder injury while Frank Murphy, whose 100th appearance for the province ended with a yellow card in the 22-16 loss to Munster on Saturday, is ruled out with concussion.

Swift makes his return having fractured a cheekbone in the shock 16-14 win in Toulouse. Lam's men have been revitalised since that remarkable win, defeating Dragons to get off the bottom of the Pro12 table and also finishing strongly to pick up a bonus point at Munster.

It has been a difficult start for Lam, but results this month have lifted morale and he wants them to begin 2014 by taking out Pro12 champions Leinster.

"I'm enjoying these wins we've had so far because we have had to work so hard to get them and when we do get things right, it's such a team effort," he said.

"We have now played everybody, it's now the second half of the season when we get another chance. We must keep improving and working hard as a team."

Last year Connacht scored a stunning 34-6 bonus-point win over Leinster at the Sportsground, but Lam said they need to produce a quality display if they are to start the new year with a win.

"They are full of quality players, Irish internationals. They are the current champions, they are a good side and we just need to put them under pressure and that starts up front," he said.

Irish Independent

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