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Connacht's Dave McSharry celebrates after the Biarritz victory.
Connacht's Dave McSharry celebrates after the Biarritz victory.
Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Elwood pays tribute to 'immense' McSharry ahead of Biarritz tilt

The Connacht backline is looking its most dangerous in recent memory.
Dec 11th 2012, 6:59 PM 1,655 4

IN PRE-MATCH PREVIEWS for the home tie against Biarritz, Elwood spoke of ‘something special’ happening against the two-time Heineken Cup finalists.

He was delighted that his prophecies were fulfilled and keen to emphasise it was a running rugby approach that did for the French.

“The perception there might have been the wind and rain but we don’t like that,” he told TheScore.ie, ”especially when you are playing a team like Biarritz. They are just bigger than us; we wanted to play.”

“A lot of credit must go to our forward pack. Dave McSharry was immense in the middle of the park and Robbie Henshaw at 15 looked so comfortable in this environment.”

Elwood added, “We are under no illusions that next week is going to be a huge challenge. It’ll be a backlash.”

The Connacht pack will be asked to take the strain in the return match this Friday but an increasingly settled backline has already shown its willingness to pitch in when and where they are needed.

Settled look

The steady evolution of a team that is far from perfect but sensational on occasion is personified in McSharry.

The 22-year-old Dubliner has displayed an impressive understanding of his role as inside centre and ran straight-up for some hard yards in last Friday’s 22-14 victory.

He scored a superb try, taking a Parks pass at full pelt, in the 34-6 league win over Leinster and benefited from the out-half’s quick-thinking to dive over against Harlequins in Connacht’s 22-30 defeat.

South African import Danie Poolman has is just four months into his spell at Connacht but he believes McSharry and Henshaw should be in the international mix if they continue to perform at the highest levels of the European game.

He said, “They play with such confidence and back their abilities.

“We have only played a few games together and the understanding is growing each week.”

With the experienced head of Parks calling the shots at 10 and Tongan flyer Fetu’u Vainikolo finally displaying the speed and tenacity that earned him a move from Super Rugby’s Highlanders, the Connacht backline is in its best shape in recent memory.

Injury update

The mood was high in training this week as the westerners prepare to depart for the south of France for their return match against Biarritz.

The team, however will have to do without the services of Willie Falloon. The former Ulster player, who excelled at openside flanker in last Friday’s 22-14 win, has suffered a fractured eye socket, ruling him out of selection.

Forwards George Naoupu and Nathan White both missed out on the Galway game due to injury but have since returned to training and are available for selection this week.

Michael Swift returned to light training this week but it is unlikely that they will be ready to feature this Friday night at Parc des Sports Aguilera.

Mike McCarthy sat out Monday training but took part in a light session today.

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Patrick McCarry

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