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Connacht out to Challenge La Rochelle's confidence


Pat Lam

Pat Lam

Pat Lam

The sheen has been taken off Connacht's season by back-to-back home defeats to Edinburgh in the PRO12 and Exeter Chiefs in The Challenge Cup.

This was minimised by Pat Lam's three-year contract extension as they continue to push the notion of building a cultural barrier against falling away.

Lam was not slow to draw comparisons between the cultural identity of the Samoans and the Irish, based around family.

It is difficult to know how Lam will approach this trip to France.

He had the confidence to send his second best to Bayonne. They rewarded his faith with four points.

That must seem like a long time ago. The Chiefs took control of Pool Two of The Challenge Cup in Galway last week. It could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Connacht.

For, they are still not fully equipped to go the distance in the PRO12 when it comes to the well being of certain individuals.

The plan must have been for Dave McSharry and Bundee Aki to shoulder the workload in the Six Nations absence of Robbie Henshaw.

All of a sudden, the electric Aki has fallen to ankle surgery and an estimated eight-ten weeks of rehabilitation.

While All Black centurion Mils Muliaina was the biggest promotional swoop for Connacht, Aki has been the difference-maker.

The PRO12 and automatic qualification into The Champions Cup must be the priority for Connacht.

It is the next step up they can make on their way to showing Irish rugby they are a legitimate force in the game.