©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Irishman plotting Ulster's downfall as Lam readies Connacht

Ulster face a trip to the Scarlets tomorrow night, while Connacht host the Glasgow Warriors in Galway.

FOR SOME IRISH rugby supporters, attention has already turned towards the November tests against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

However, this weekend sees all four provinces in RaboDirect Pro12 action, with Munster and Ulster looking to copper fasten their spots in the top four, while Leinster are hoping to join them by beating the Dragons tonight.

For Connacht, a game of an altogether different importance awaits. Pat Lam’s men are desperate for a win as they find themselves rock bottom of the table, two points behind Italian minnows Zebre. There has been a sense that Connacht have improved in recent weeks, but results are what really matter.

Lam is aware of the challenge facing his side tomorrow as Glasgow Warriors roll into town.

“Glasgow are at the top end of the table and are a team who have been consistently improving the last number of years. I witnessed their last visit in May when I had first arrived here. They were an impressive outfit and very clinical in beating us.

They are one of the best defensive outfits in the competition and will punish any errors. But we have been building and building on the performances and fight of the last few weeks and are really looking forward to this clash.”

Lam has made four changes to the starting XV that was narrowly beaten by Leinster last weekend, one of which is the welcome return of Dave McSharry to inside centre. The 23-year-old came off the bench against Zebre in the Heineken Cup last month, but this is his first start of the season.

Head coach Lam is pleased to see the former Ireland U20 representative back fit after hip surgery, and he is joined in the centre by 20-year-old prospect Darragh Leader, who makes just his second senior start for the province having impressed for the Connacht Eagles in recent weeks. However, Lam was disappointed that more injury problems have befallen his squad.

“I’m delighted to be able to give Dave McSharry a start after a long road to recovery for him. And with our regular outside centres unavailable, young Academy back Darragh Leader gets a chance to start which we’re all looking forward to.

“Once again, it’s been a disruptive week with more players being added to our ever growing injury list. Losing Sean Henry, Andrew Browne, Aaron Conneely, and Danie Poolman to injury and Robbie Henshaw to Ireland camp has meant that we’ve had to dig deep as a group.”

imageSimon Easterby is planning against Irish opponents. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.

Meanwhile, Ulster are readying themselves for tomorrow evening’s clash with the Scarlets at Parc y Scarlets, with an Irishman plotting their downfall. Former international flanker Simon Easterby is in his second season as head coach of the Welsh region, having previously been in charge of their defence.

Capped 65 times for Ireland, as well as forcing his way onto the 2005 Lions Test team, the 38-year-old is now planning on upsetting Mark Anscombe’s side.

We know we’ll have to be really accurate, Ulster are tough opponents and with the quality they have built into their side, they are still very competitive even during international phases in the season.

“They are very well-coached and have shown their ability in the last few weeks in Europe both home and away and still got a result against Cardiff Blues last time out following on from the highs of the previous weeks.  That shows their class and we’re well aware of certain individuals in their team and what they bring.

“They have some real quality throughout the spine of their team and that depth becomes apparent now in the next few weeks; while the balance of some squads can be really disrupted with international call-ups.”

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