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Jasper Wiese takes on Ulster's Tom O'Toole and David O'Connor.
Jasper Wiese takes on Ulster's Tom O'Toole and David O'Connor.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Connacht need a unit at eight, and Jasper Wiese might fit the bill

‘That’s the one area of the squad that you could say they probably need to go foreign and bring somebody in of a different profile,’ said Bernard Jackman.
Apr 2nd 2020, 6:23 PM 10,786 19

THE42 RUGBY WEEKLY ploughs on despite the lack of, eh, rugby, and in the second part of the lads’ provincial report-card series, Bernard Jackman joined Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey to run the rule over his former employers, Connacht.

During the show, ‘Berch’ and Murray provided their two cents on the western province’s stop-start, injury-plagued 2019/20 season, the specificities of Andy Friend’s impact at the helm, their players to watch, the potentially transformative effects of the Sportsground’s €30m redevelopment and, crucially, player recruitment on both an international and local level.

You can listen to the full podcast at the link below, or wherever you get yours.

Both Bernard and Murray were in agreement that one area in which Connacht could use an import from abroad is at number eight, where the lads’ perception is that Friend’s men are a bit light in more ways than one.

And Bernard, who enjoyed two stints with Connacht between 1997 and 1999, and 2002 and 2005, believes they may have already found their man, albeit there has been nothing resembling confirmation coming from the province themselves.

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“It’s no secret that they’ve been actively looking for a number eight — a big, ball-carrying number eight — for the last four or five months,” he said.

Definitely, there were rumours that they were going to sign the Cheetahs number eight [Jasper Wiese], or maybe even that they had signed him; that was the talk about two months ago and it hasn’t been announced yet, but sometimes these things are done a long time before they’re announced.
I do think they’re lacking that destructive ball-carrier. I think they’ve got a lot of skilful forwards — really good forwards technically — but sometimes when the game tightens up, they just lack a little bit of ballast. That’s the one area of the squad that you could say they probably need to go foreign and bring somebody in of a different profile to what they already have.

Murray added: “The sense certainly was that the IRFU were going to give them that bit of leeway, and it’s needed.

Look at those back-row options: lots of good players there with the likes of [Jarrad] Butler — but is he really a number eight? I think he’s more of a kind of smart flanker who has been filling in in that role; the likes of Paul Boyle, [Eoin] McKeown, Cillian Gallagher — lots of different skillsets there but not that traditional big unit at eight who’s going to get you that gainline consistently.

“So, [a new signing at number eight] would be a massive boost for them, I think, and would then hopefully allow some of the younger guys — even someone like Sean Masterson, Eoghan’s younger brother who got a couple of caps this season — to develop that familiarity with senior rugby and grow into it.”

In the second episode of a four-part series, Bernard Jackman joins Murray and Gavan to run the rule over his former employers, Connacht, and what the future may look like for the western province.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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