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Dublin: 12°C Friday 23 April 2021

Connacht's young guns make impact and 'there's definitely more to come'

The likes of Jordan Duggan, Jack Aungier, Sean Masterson, and Cian Prendergast took their chances.

Cian Prendergast and Jordan Duggan made their European debuts last weekend.
Cian Prendergast and Jordan Duggan made their European debuts last weekend.
Image: INPHO

SOME OF THE younger members of Connacht’s matchday squad made impressive impacts last weekend in Paris, offering Andy Friend and co. encouragement regarding the depth of their squad.

23-year-old Paul Boyle was outstanding once again at number eight, while 22-year-old Sean Masterson was excellent on his European debut in the starting back row before being forced off injured as the game neared half time.

22-year-old loosehead prop Jordan Duggan, 22 year-old tighthead prop Jack Aungier, and 20-year-old lock/back row Cian Prendergast all did well off the bench.

These five young forwards all previously played underage rugby with Leinster, while Aungier won senior caps for his native province, but they’re now taking their chances with Connacht.

“Something this year is that we wanted to challenge those lads to come in and fit in seamlessly,” said Connacht scrum-half Kieran Marmion.

“Credit to those lads, you can’t go to many tougher places than Racing and be involved in physical games like that.

“It’s probably just the start of what they’re going to produce in the future. They’re top-quality players and there’s definitely more to come from those lads.

sean-masterson Sean Masterson has made two starts this season so far. Source: Sighinolfi Luca/INPHO

“It’s just them maturing as players. They get to that age and become more physical. It takes time and you probably only find out how physical you need to be when you get into those games.

“Those lads delivered last weekend and it’s just about doing it every week now, which I’m sure they’re more than capable of doing.”

Connacht head coach Friend is similarly enthusiastic about the talented players emerging for the province, who underwent sweeping changes to their squad last summer.   

“We’re still building the squad but I thought some of the young blokes who came on, they’re straight out of the academy these fellas,” said Friend. “In fact, Cian Prendergast is in Year 1 of the academy.

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“Jack Aungier, I love him, he’s a no-nonsense bloke who just rocks up and does what he does. Credit to Jordan and Cian too.

“They weren’t shy on the weekend and they added massive impact and energy for us as a team. They’re young men starting out their careers so every time they get the opportunity to test themselves out against the best, they can take positives.

“Cian came off the field and said to one of the coaches, ‘I’ve got to get stronger, I’m not strong enough yet.’ We said, ‘Hang on, mate, you’re 20, you’ll get stronger’ but I thought he was really impressive.

“They’re just good young footballers. In our matchday 23 there the other day, we had 13 blokes who came through our academy so we are producing quality academy players here.

kieran-marmion-conor-oliver-and-paddy-mcallister Kieran Marmion, Conor Oliver and Denis Buckley pictured as Powers renews its partnership with Connacht Rugby as Official Whiskey Partner. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We’ve got another stream coming in behind them. You’ve just got to give them belief and then clarity in what they’re doing.

“That’s a compliment to our coaching staff – Pete Wilkins, Nigel Carolan, Jimmy Duffy – who continue to present a message which makes it very clear for these men to follow and you saw execution of that at the weekend. Just four points short.”

Connacht will hope for more impact from the young guns this Sunday as they look for a win at home against Bristol.

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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