Fit Dillane can make impact in this campaign - Muldoon
Connacht captain John Muldoon has predicted a big season from a fit-again Ultan Dillane following his recovery from shoulder surgery. Dillane started his first competitive game for Connacht since February against Glasgow Warriors, and he looked back to his best with a powerful carrying and defensive shift at a sodden Sportsground.
Despite missing the Ireland summer tour due to the injury, Muldoon thinks Dillane has benefited from not trying to rush his return to fitness, while he thinks Ireland and Connacht will benefit from the lock's solid pre-season.
"I think sometimes we forget how important those building blocks that you put in during the summer are. Ultan has had six or seven weeks of undisturbed training and you can't take that away, that will really set him up for a good season this year," said Muldoon.
"Touch wood, he stays injury-free and we get to see him more and more in the Connacht shirt - and maybe more in the Irish shirt too.
"Sometimes with the season getting so long now, especially for the international lads, they probably don't get the time to put in the hard yards during the summer. It's good for him.
"Earlier in the year he got injured and missed the summer tour, and I said it might be a blessing in disguise, and he certainly hit the ground running. Hopefully he kicks on and gets better again. The Bristol game was his first hit-out, so he should improve with the game."
Dillane and Muldoon will hope to help Connacht to their first win of the season when they welcome Southern Kings to the Sportsground on Saturday evening.
In a disappointing performance against Warriors, Connacht struggled to acclimatise to the conditions, while Glasgow ran in the two significant try-scoring chances that came their way to win 18-12.
Kings will become the first South African side to play at the Sportsground since their national team won there in 2007, and Muldoon admits he has plenty of homework to do this week to get up to scratch on their players.
"I'll have to do a good bit of analysis on them, I don't know much about them. I have seen them playing a couple times, but I believe their squad has changed quite a bit. We'll need to do our due diligence during the week and get an idea of some of their players.
"They probably haven played in a couple of weeks and they'll definitely improve with games like us all. I doubt they had any pre-season friendlies considering they only stopped three or four weeks ago. I'm sure they'll definitely come on with that Scarlets game."