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'For Connacht to change, they need to not feel sorry for themselves'

Bernard Jackman told The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast that the province need to be ‘focussed internally’

Connacht have lost all of their URC games so far this season.
Connacht have lost all of their URC games so far this season.
Image: Deon van der Merwe/INPHO

CONNACHT MUST AVOID feeling sorry for themselves and “being critical of their critics” if they are to improve results after a losing start to the season, according to Bernard Jackman, a former captain at the province.

Connacht have lost their opening three games of the URC campaign, to the Bulls, Stormers and Ulster. They face Munster on Friday at the Sportsground, desperate for a win to jump start their season.

“I’ve been critical of Connacht. I actually love Connacht,” Jackman said on Rugby Weekly Extra, a podcast available to The42 members.

“I’m an ex-player, ex-captain, I went down to speak to them last year. I genuinely understand that it’s not easy, I understand that other teams have bigger budgets, more experience, more internationals.

“But also I think that when I’ve been critical of them it’s because I’ve factored all of those things in, and I still think for them to change and get the most out of themselves they need to not be looking to basically feel sorry for themselves or be critical of the critics.

“It’s actually: don’t let those days when it’s a whitewash happen, and that’s elite sport. There’s actually a lot of love and care for Connacht and a lot of understanding how hard it is.

“And likewise sometimes when they’ve been lower down than some of the other provinces in the table, we’ve all been looking to praise them for the brilliant rugby they’ve played or the scalp they’ve had. So there’s a genuine desire for Connacht to be successful on my part, but also we have to call it as we see it and they’re capable of more than they’re doing at the moment.”

Jackman said Connacht’s poor start to this season has not been unexpected given some of the performances in the last campaign when they lost nine of their 18 URC games.

“OK, they’ve had a hard start but let’s be honest last year there were days when they were just incredibly disappointing and that’s what they need to fix. I’m sure they’re working really hard to do that but if it gets out of control this year it’ll just be . . .

“I made lots of mistakes in Connacht as well and sometimes I felt sorry for myself and as a team we didn’t have that resilience that we needed to have.

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“Realistically if you kind of go ‘Alright, Friendy’s (Andy Friend) leaving at the end of the year, it’ll be better next year, or it’ll be different next year,’ that’s another year out of your career which could be short.

“I think they should be more focussed internally rather than what’s seen as being harsh criticism.”

The full conversation, and the full podcast episode, is available now wherever you get your podcasts. To listen to it every week, as well as further members-exclusive podcasts with Eoin Toolan on Wednesdays and post-match pods immediately following every Ireland test, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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