Tuesday 20 February 2018

We're keen to break new ground in Scotstoun

For Pat Lam, Kieran Marmion is one of the best defensive half-backs around
For Pat Lam, Kieran Marmion is one of the best defensive half-backs around

Pat Lam

It's great to be back in match-week mode after a few weekends off. The break gave us all a chance to recuperate and allowed the guys coming back from injury to get a few more training sessions under their belts. Everyone got a week off to unwind and then we had a really good prep week last week.

Playing Glasgow this Saturday is really exciting for us. To go over to Scotstoun Stadium where we've never won before gives us a chance to create a bit of history.

We're sitting seventh and Glasgow are in sixth so both teams want to claim the points on offer and climb that table.

We'll be playing on their new 4G pitch but we can take a lot of confidence from our strong performance over in Cardiff Arms Park on the same type of surface.

It wasn't just the win but the way we played, particularly in the second half. We played some good rugby, we were physical and we also came away with no injuries.

By all accounts, the Glasgow pitch is even better as it's only recently installed.

We don't have to worry too much about the weather forecast because of the way the surface allows you to play regardless of the conditions.

Both sides like to play so it's set up to be a great game live on Sky Sports.

Last Saturday, I watched the Ireland v England game out on Achill Island with my family and a lot of happy Irish fans.

For Ireland to be able to win such a big game like that without the likes of Jamie Heaslip, Conor Murray, Rob Kearney and Devin Toner just highlights the depth that is coming through in this squad.

World-class There is no doubt that Murray is world-class but I thought Kieran Marmion did really well against Wales and was really impressive in his first Six Nations start against England on Saturday.

That will give him and the Irish public a lot of confidence that he can no doubt play at that level.

At Connacht, we all know the class he possesses, and the type of competitor he is but you could see how comfortable he was in there for Ireland and that's because he's been training in that environment for so long, soaking up information and building relationships.

For me, Marmo is one of the best defensive half-backs around. He's an energiser and a really good runner with the ball.

I think England and Eddie Jones had done their homework on him and knew they had to shut down his running threat which in turn opened up more space for the likes of Johnny Sexton.

Irish rugby is in a really good place at the moment. There's a conveyor belt of young, talented players coming through from all the four provinces and it's exciting to see.

To be ranked in the top four in the world is massive and I feel privileged to have worked in this environment for the past four years.

The Six Nations was a great advertisement for the game and it certainly motivates us all to do well. We've won our last four games on the trot and we want to keep going.

We won't know where we're going to end up until we're coming in to the last week of the championship.

There are 20 points available in this block of four games and it's up to us to try and get as many points as possible. There is still a good bit of rugby to be played. Have we left it too late to qualify for Champions Cup automatically? We will have to wait and see.

But the goal for Connacht Rugby is to be playing Champions Cup rugby every year. We want to be synonymous with the top-tier competition. That's the vision. Whether we get in there automatically this year or via a play-off, we just want to be there.

Outside of rugby, we were all deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Marnitz Boshoff's father on Sunday. It's a truly tragic time for him and his family.

Marnitz was just coming back from his long-term injury and was looking forward to getting back playing. But when something like that happens, rugby just takes a back seat and Marnitz needs to be with his family in South Africa now.

Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife Monique and their new baby boy Zean who was only born last month.

Irish Independent

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