Wednesday 22 November 2017

Lam backing new Auckland recruit Ili to make impact

Connacht coach Pat Lam. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht coach Pat Lam. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Connacht coach Pat Lam is hoping that his latest recruit from Auckland Rugby can have the same impact as Jake Heenan and Nepia Fox-Matamua.

Stacey Ili linked up with his new team-mates for the first time on Monday and Lam will hope his arrival can add a much-needed spark. Defeats to Glasgow and Ospreys were almost added to with a third loss in Italy last weekend before a thunderstorm caused their clash with Zebre to be abandoned with the home team in control at the interval.

Ili is unlikely to feature this weekend against Scarlets, but Lam thinks he will provide invaluable competition for Connacht as they continue to look for their first Pro12 win of the season, and Champions Cup Rugby next month.

Read more: Henderson banking on injury-free campaign

"It's very similar to Jake and Nepia, both of them never got contracts. We have seen the quality of both of those players when they get an opportunity to go full-time," said Lam. "I wouldn't have brought Stacey in if I didn't think he could slot in. The biggest thing with him is that he has got the ability and skills that we are looking for. It's going to come down to Stacey to see how long it is before he plays."

Read more: Cronin emphasises new broom as Leinster brush up on their skills

Meanwhile, Heenan and Quinn Roux are both available for selection after injury, ahead of this weekend's crunch clash away to Scarlets. Flanker Heenan, 24, picked up a gruesome hand injury in a defeat at Montpellier on August 11. Second-row Roux, 25, sustained a hip injury in pre-season and both players missed out on the opening rounds in the Pro12.

But tighthead prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy is set to miss a minimum of six weeks after he picked up an arm injury in training last week.

Irish Independent

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