Wednesday 25 April 2018

Carolan keen to get one over on his former team-mate

Nigel Carolan while on international duty with the U-20s. Photo: Sportsfile
Nigel Carolan while on international duty with the U-20s. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Nigel Carolan and Bernard Jackman soldiered together for Connacht back in the 1990s as Warren Gatland tried to fashion a team from meagre pickings at the Sportsground but they will be in different camps on Friday as both of them continue a new phase of their careers.

Carolan, who stepped down as Ireland U-20 coach and 13 years in charge of the Connacht Academy to become assistant to Kieran Keane, is hopeful the 2016 champions can build on last weekend's win over the Southern Kings.

He was a winger when Jackman was in the Connacht pack in the early years of professional rugby and knows they will have nothing easy at Rodney Parade evening given that his former colleague is looking for his first win in charge of the Newport outfit.

"He is trying to rebuild in Dragons and he is trying to create a real strong identity. They are going to be a tight-knit group much like what he did in Grenoble, they were a difficult team to play against.

"He is trying to play a really expansive game and they have some real firepower, particularly guys like Ashton Hewitt and Zane Kirchner in the outside channels. They have the old boot of Gavin Henson to rely on as well. He can kick them into positions. In Glasgow last weekend it was late in the game before they pulled away.

"We know that it is going to be a very difficult game for us. We are going to have to make sure that we have built on last week and that we are more effective than we were then."

Head coach Keane plans to tweak his side for this encounter but scrum-half Kieran Marmion looks set to play for the third week with options limited at No 9 with new signing James Mitchell injured. However, flanker Seán O'Brien will see a specialist today to establish the extent of a shoulder injury picked up against the Kings.

Irish Independent

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