White needed in the green of Ireland

La Rochelle v Connacht, Stade Marcel Deflandre, Today (KO6.30)

By Des Berry

Connacht coach Pat Lam showed all the confidence in the world by granting his young guns their Challenge Cup chance in Bayonne two rounds back.

The repaid his faith with a transformative victory in France to inject the fearlessness of youth with evidence of what can be done with the proper application.

Sadly, the fall at home to Exeter Chiefs was based on a faulty scrum that simply could not hold its ground.

The return of tight-head Nathan White will hold as much interest for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt as it does for Lam.

The ongoing demotion of Mike Ross at Leinster gives new meaning to White's durability at the set-piece as Ireland are going nowhere in the Six Nations without a reliable scrum.

The clock is working against White in that the former Waikato Chiefs captain has had little in the way of game time. Connacht could do with a 'pick them up' off the back of successive home defeats just before they turn their undivided attention back towards automatic qualification for next season's Champions Cup.

La Rochelle: A Alofa; A Cestaro, C Bouldoire, E Roudil, D Cler; JP Barraque, J Berger; V Pelo, H Forbes, B Bourrust, L Cedaro, M Tanguy, B Guyot, N Djebaili, A Meron.

Connacht: M Miliaina (capt); D Leader, D Poolman, C Finn, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; R Loughney, T McCartney, N White, Q Roux, A Browne, E McKeon, W Faloon, G Naoupu.

VERDICT: La Rochelle