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Forwards coach Duffy vows that Connacht will keep up chase for Champions Cup spot

The western province are playing their game in hand away to Zebre this weekend and hope to at least earn a play-off before Pat Lam heads for Bristol.

Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

CONNACHT FORWARDS COACH Jimmy Duffy says the team know there is still a Champions Cup play-off at stake and no one has given up on this season.

With just eight wins from their 17 games this season, the reigning Pro12 champions are seventh in the standings and 12 points adrift of sixth-placed Glasgow Warriors.

Their hopes of automatic qualification are all but gone but Duffy believes they can secure a play-off against either a French or English club and victory tomorrow against basement club Zebre in Parma will set them up for a big finish to a disappointing season.

“We put pressure on ourselves to perform. You want to be competing at all stages of the year, and vying for the honours that are on offer,” said Duffy.

“Last year is history. We have had a number of changes in the group this year, and we are building nicely.

“We would have liked to have been further up the table but it is what it is and we will have to deal with it.

“The mood in the camp has been positive. We are building experience. All you can do is try and bring it on for next year.”

Connacht were in scintillating form towards the end of last season, which included two back-to-back victories over Glasgow, and wins over Munster and Leinster in the Sportsground.

Connacht also beat Leinster 20-10 in the Pro12 final at Murrayfield in May, but now they are battling to reach the Champions Cup, and Duffy believes everyone is focused on the task at hand.

“For us it is all about being positive and looking forward to the next challenge. It is all about moving forward every week,” said Duffy.

We are aware of who is above and below but you can’t really get side-tracked, you have to stay on the job.

“The boys wouldn’t be looking at games and other opposition unless they are injured. We are just solely focused on Zebre.

“I would find it quite easy not to get side-tracked. If you do, you miss something, and if you miss something you can come unstuck.”

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Daragh Small

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