Wednesday 22 November 2017

'This will be the biggest game in Connacht’s history' - Lam bullish ahead of Champions Cup showdown with Toulouse

David Kelly

David Kelly

Pat Lam believes Connacht can win the biggest match in their history in Toulouse next week and qualify for the Champions Cup quarter-final for the first time.

“I’m not interested in any calculations next week, we are going to do whatever it takes to get the win,” said Lam after his team’s ten-try romp against hapless Zebre at the Galway Sportsgrounds.

“Of course, we are aware of other scenarios but this will be the biggest game in Connacht’s history.

“We have already done some good work on them and we have a plan so we come back in on Tuesday we will have clarity and then confidence when we get on the plane.”

Aside from a worrying injury to prop Denis Buckley, who will face a scan this weekend on a foot issue, there were no further issues as Lam enjoyed the luxury of training with his entire starting fifteen for the first time in five weeks.

“The positive was to get the five points, we were bitterly disappointed with our defence, our goal was not to let them score and they did twice so I was disappointed at half-time.

“It was a reminder of the little moments that have killed us in previous games. But it is all in our control now, if we want to get in, we need to win

“It was the first time in five weeks the starters all did the training and you could see how it helped compared to previous weeks.

“You can’t underestimate the impact the new guys have had, the injury list is to high for my liking still but there is some light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully we can have a quarter-final in April to look forward to.

“Tom Farrell is a strong runner, he likes to off-load, he wanted emails before he came here of all the plays. He is like everyone here, he is a learner.

“One of the things that were important was the focus on us, not on Zebre. I was pleased they picked a strong team, we needed to get our jobs done or else we would get punished and we did at times, when we got turned over too easily.

“Their tries did some damage but we won’t get away with that in Toulouse. We are aware that this was a certain level but next week is another level.

“I was happy with John Cooney at out-half, he knows our game and he has the skill-set and knowledge of the game, he backs himself to get the job done. His goal-kicking is a big bonus.

“And it was great to see Craig Ronaldson coming back too, he is crucial in our phase play.”

Man of the match,Tiernan O’Halloran says his side will need to iron out any weaknesses in their game ahead of next week’s daunting trip to Toulouse.

“We said an hour before kick-off, the conditions might suit us to throw the ball around and that might help us. We scored a good early try but then were disappointed to let them in for two soft tries.

“We had to start over again but it was good to get the bonus point wrapped up by half-time. And by the 50th minute, we were thinking about how points difference might affect the pool. “The changes in our team worked really well, we had a full training week which stood to us because the last few weeks have been disruptive with injuries and Irish training camps.

“We know we have a lot of things to work on. If we tackle like we did today or give them loose ball, that will be punished against Toulouse.

“But our confidence is back after a rough few weeks and that is vital for us. It’s been tough in the league and unfortunately our performance let us down.

“We are looking ahead now. We know we can still get a home quarter-final too which would be massive. We will just plan to win and get a quarter-final, we won’t worry about bonus points.”

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