Godwin centre of attention as new era begins in Connacht

Connacht coach Andy Friend. Photo: Sportsfile

David Kelly

Andy Friend becomes the third Connacht coach in as many years to welcome Glasgow to Galway on the opening day - and he will hope it won't be his last, unlike the previous two.

Both Pat Lam and Kieran Keane lost this fixture on those occasions and few gleaned quite how their subsequent seasons would pan out; ultimately they would end in both men leaving, the latter's underwhelming stint contrasting strongly with Lam's title-winning experience.

Friend will hope to make it third time lucky for the Westerners but knows that today won't determine his future; he will have some wind at his back, though, after Connacht's most comprehensive pre-season preparation in those three years.

Three wins, too, will have aided the collective's sense of well-being.

The absence of John Muldoon will seem poignant but a reflection that a new broom awaits; the presence of Zimbabwe-born Wallaby Kyle Godwin in midfield is a selection which promises some excitement and allure.

"You don't win championships in pre-season, but you can lose them. We're at the start line in pretty good shape but it's what we do from here that's important", Friend said.

"We are expecting a massive challenge - Glasgow got off to a roaring start last year."

Verdict: Glasgow

Connacht - T O'Halloran; C Kelleher, K Godwin, T Farrell, M Healy; J Carty, C Blade; D Buckley, D Heffernan, F Bealham,U Dillane, J Cannon, P Boyle, J Butler capt, E McKeon. Reps: S Delahunt, P McCabe, C Carey, Q Roux, C Gallagher, J Mitchell, C Ronaldson, N Adeolokun.

Glasgow Warriors - S Hogg; T Seymour, N Grigg, P Horne, DTH Van der Merwe; A Hastings, G Horne; O Kebble, G Turner, Z Fagerson, S Cummings, J Gray, R Harley, C Gibbins, R Wilson. Reps: F Brown, A Allan, D Rae, A Ashe, C Fusaro, N Frisby, A Dunbar, K Matawalu.

Ref - I Davies (WRU) Connacht v Glasgow Warriors, Live, eir Sport 1/ TG4, 3.0