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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 27 May, 2020

'It's not ideal preparation' - Connacht left without pre-season run

Pat Lam’s squad trained against Ulster Bank League outfit Clontarf last weekend.

CONNACHT ENJOYED A worthwhile pre-season run-out against Montpellier in France back on 11 August, but won’t have another official friendly fixture before the Guinness Pro12 season begins against Glasgow on 3 September.

Further fixtures had been planned, with an English club, one French side and one of the Irish provinces mooted, but a series of unfortunate circumstances meant that those potential warm-ups didn’t materialise or fell through.

Connacht team huddle before the game Connacht played against Montpellier in Saint-Affrique. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ulster Bank League side Clontarf provided opposition in training last weekend, while this Friday will see the Connacht squad tear into each other in a session open to the province’s season ticket holders.

Pat Lam and his coaching staff place great store in their training intensity, and the hope is that the back-up measures will suffice in preparation for facing a Glasgow side that has a point to prove in Galway.

“It’s certainly a challenge,” says captain John Muldoon of how Connacht have managed. “Personally, I got 40 minutes against Montpellier where we played 32 players.

We had a game cancelled and it is not the best pre-season especially with Glasgow first up. We had a training hit-out against Clontarf last weekend, but it’s not ideal preparation.

“But we have to deal with it. We need to make sure we cut lumps off each other in training.”

Lam will be impressing upon his players the importance of a strong start to their title defence when Gregor Townsend’s Warriors visit Galway, where the Scots lost twice late last season.

The first of those defeats was on the final day of the Pro12 regular season, before Connacht secured victory in the subsequent semi-final. It all makes for an appetising fixture on the first Saturday of the season.

John Muldoon Muldoon at the Pro12 launch in Dublin yesterday. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We’re on Sky [Sports]; it normally doesn’t happen to us, it normally takes us six weeks to get on TV. It’s a change,” says Muldoon.

“Glasgow have been the form team for a few seasons and it will be another close game, there’s never more than a score in it. We have similar styles.

Dan [McFarland] knows us as well as we know him. The first game was a try-fest last season, the other two were tighter. I don’t expect many tries this time.”

Muldoon believes a top-six finish would represent a successful season for Connacht.

“We have to be realistic here,” says the Portumna man. “We want to win it; so does everyone else. Being realistic, a top-six finish is a good result. If you look at how the teams have recruited, top six would be an achievement.

“The ones who have recruited heavily will be vying for those top six places as well.”

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Murray Kinsella

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