Pat Lam calls on Connacht to reach 'another level'
When Connacht pulled off the major coup of signing Mils Muliaina's, Pat Lam must have been licking his lips at the prospect of having the All Black centurion available during international periods.
The news that the full-back faces a month on the sidelines with a hamstring tear is a major blow as Connacht look to take advantage of the fact that they have the majority of their front-line players to chose from for their trip to Scarlets tomorrow (12.45).
Eoin McKeon sustained a fractured sternum and also faces at least four weeks out but the return of Jake Heenan will soften the blow as the openside makes his first appearance since the first game of the season.
Tighthead Nathan White also returns from a lengthy lay-off, while Kieran Marmion starts having been released by Ireland.
"This is a huge game for us against a well-coached and quality side in Scarlets," Lam said. "They are breathing right behind us and like us, they have top six aspirations.
"We haven't won on their soil since 2004 and we've never won at Parc y Scarlets.
"We've challenged ourselves to take it to another level for this block of four games, and it must start with a performance this weekend."
Scarlets sit two places behind Connacht in eighth and lost 14-8 in Galway last November.
Scarlets are unbeaten in their last 12 league games at Parc y Scarlets but even without Muliaina's class, Connacht's settled squad have enough to end that run.
Scarlets - J Williams; H Robinson, R King, H Parkes, M Tagicakibau; S Shingler, A Davies; P John, K Owens (c), P Edwards; L Rawlins, J Snyman; A Shingler, J Davies, J Barclay. Reps: R Elias, B Leung, J Adriaanse, G Earle, R McCusker, G Davies, A Warren, K Phillips.
Connacht - D Leader; N Adeolokun, D Poolman, D McSharry, M Healy; J Carty, K Marmion; D Buckley, T McCartney, N White; Q Roux, A Muldowney; J Muldoon (c), J Heenan, G Naoupu. Reps: D Heffernan, JP Cooney, R Ah You, U Dillane, E Masterson, I Porter, S O'Leary, T O'Halloran.
ref - M Mitrea (Italy)
Scarlets v Connacht,
Live, S4C, tomorrow, 12.45