Sunday 18 March 2018

Proud to see so many of our lads on Dream Team

Pat Lam issues instructions during Connacht's victory over Glasgow. Photo: Sed Daly/Sportsfile
Pat Lam issues instructions during Connacht's victory over Glasgow. Photo: Sed Daly/Sportsfile

Pat Lam

We are normally preparing to sign off at this time of year, so it's fantastic to still be working now and looking towards a home play-off semi-final next weekend.

With no game this weekend we decided to give the boys a much-needed few days off at the start of the week to recharge the batteries.

It was important that they came in both physically and mentally fresh for this big couple of weeks ahead of us.

With 22 rounds of Pro12 rugby played it was nice to be able to reflect and look back at what we have achieved so far.

Finishing on a record 73 points (23 more than last season), the same as first-placed Leinster, as well as being the only team to have remained in the top four all season, was very pleasing.

We had 15 wins, which broke our record of ten victories from last season, with the historic victory at Thomond Park and first ever success at Liberty Stadium just some of the highlights.

To cap it all off, a record five Connacht players finished the last Six Nations game together, which was a great achievement.

After the win on Saturday, there was very little time for hanging around as we had a quick turnaround to get ready for our annual Awards Night in the Bailey Allen Hall in NUI Galway.


It was another great event with players and people involved in rugby at all levels of the game coming together from all around the province.

It is important to recognise all the hard work that is done to grow rugby in Connacht and all the achievements across club, schools and women's sections of the game as well as the professional team.

Bundee Aki brought home a good few awards and he was up to the stage again the following day in Dublin when we attended the Pro12 awards at the Guinness Storehouse. He was named as the Players' Player of the Year as voted for by his peers, the captains and vice captains of all 12 teams in the Pro12.

It was a great night for Connacht and we were really proud to see seven of our players make the 2015/16 dream team - the highest ever representation by any team.

The league's highest capped player of all time and our captain John Muldoon received the Chairman's Award for his dedication and impressive performances in the league over 13 seasons - and he's not finished yet.

All in all it's been a great season for everyone involved in Connacht Rugby and we are proud as a team, but we all know there's a lot of work to do yet.

We are determined to get into that final in Edinburgh but to do that we have to beat a very good Glasgow side, two weeks after beating them in the last round of the regular season.

There's no doubt that they will be gunning for us next week and will come back stronger. They will be disappointed with some aspects of their game from the last day, but so were we, and we know we will improve and be ready to face their challenge.

It is certainly set up to be another interesting battle and we are delighted to be playing at home one more time.

It's awesome that we will have another sell-out fixture at the Sportsground to hopefully drive the boys all the way to the final in Edinburgh.

In this historic occasion, the demand for tickets definitely outweighs the supply but being at home is such a huge advantage for us, and I know everyone will make their voices heard.

It's going to be such a special atmosphere again and it's the supporters that create that.

Yesterday, myself and John Muldoon were in Edinburgh as part of a Pro12 media event to promote the play-offs and the final.

We have to do a few of these events throughout the season but we've never been at one at this time of year. To be standing there at Murrayfield as one of just four teams really made it hit home the position we have put ourselves in.

We have gone from a one in 12 chance of winning this competition to a one in four now. It's knockout rugby and we know how close we are to the big prize. We want to be getting on a plane back to Edinburgh two weeks from now.

That's our goal and we're massively excited by it.

Irish Independent

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