Connacht won't rest on laurels


Connacht assistant coach Dan McFarland believes they can follow up their surprise 22-14 win over Biarritz by winning in the Basque region next Friday night.

McFarland, one of the favourites to take over as head coach from Eric Elwood next season, said the win was one of the highlights of his 12 years as a player and coach at the Sportsground.

"The big change in recent times has been in the expectation levels," he said. "There was a very calm approach to Friday night's game. Yes, it was a big occasion for the club but as a squad we just concentrated on the fact that we needed to win if we were to keep our hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals alive.

"We are thrilled to win but we can't be happy with just that alone, the task now will be to go to Biarritz and back it up," added the former prop.

McFarland said that in former times a lengthy casualty list – the likes of captain Gavin Duffy, John Muldoon, Michael Swift and George Naoupu were all missing – would undermine the challenge but that the quality of the young players coming through was excellent.

"We have to develop our own talent, we can't go out and buy it like other clubs, so it is great to see these young players come through and deliver. The key now is to move away from producing one huge performance and do it consistently and that starts in Biarritz on Friday."

Connacht's victory was fashioned around a fired-up pack which got on top of the visitors. Mike McCarthy led the way with a magnificent performance which typified Connacht's spirit on the night. And with Dan Parks orchestrating the backs and picking off scores, Connacht eventually wore out Biarritz.

Connacht know that another win over a possibly disinterested Biarritz side on Friday night will give them a great chance of making the knockout stages of one or other of the two European competitions.

"I felt there was something special going to happen," said Elwood who told his players to go have a few beers after the game. "Things are hard enough around here. They have worked extremely hard, let them have a few beers, enjoy it. What do I care? I'll see them on Monday. Winning home European games against Biarritz doesn't happen very often."

First up tomorrow will be a check on the casualty list as he plots a raid on Biarritz. "Hopefully, we will get a few lads back but one way or the other we will head there with confidence and give it a go," he added.