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Muldoon ready 'to break that cord with Connacht' as Bristol host Westerners
“I’m very proud of the fact that I spent so much time with Connacht as a player, but the reality is that they have to move on and it’s the same with me.”

JOHN MULDOON ADMITS it will be strange trying to fashion a Connacht defeat this evening, but he believes this pre-season game in Bristol (kick-off 19.45) is the perfect way to complete the severance of his link with his native province.

Muldoon, who brought the curtain down on his 15-year playing career with Connacht the end of last season, has moved to Bristol where he has taken up a role as defence coach in the management team headed up by Pat Lam.

John Muldoon and Pat Lam Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO Matteo Ciambelli / INPHO / INPHO

Bristol, the big spenders in the Premiership after being promoted in May, will host Connacht at Ashton Gate this evening before opening their league campaign against neighbours Bath next weekend in a tie that has already sold over 20,000 tickets.

Muldoon said that the transition from player to coach has not been too difficult and that his role as captain over the years ensured he had an insight into the demands involved.

“It’s been good, I have settled in well. It’s been a matter of trying to get to know everyone but the fact that there are a good few ex-Connacht players and management there has helped the process.

The biggest worry I had is that I would miss playing so much but I have enjoyed the switch. The days are much longer, the time and the load you have to out in as a coach is much greater but I would have been aware of that.

“It’s good working with Pat and the lads again. As captain I would have been privy to a lot of things in Connacht so that has helped with the transition from player to coach,” said Muldoon.

There is a sizeable Connacht contingent now with Bristol. Lock Aly Muldowney and flanker Jake Heenan were both members of the Pro12 winning side, while backs coach Conor McPhillips and head of fitness Paul Bunce moved with Lam having master-minded Connacht’s greatest day in Murrayfield two years ago.

It has been a hectic period for Muldoon. He finished his playing career landing a conversion in a 47-10 hammering of Leinster at the Sportsground, a few days later his wife Lorna gave birth to their first child Scott and then a couple of weeks after that Muldoon moved to Bristol.

John Muldoon celebrates with teammates after the game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

The Muldoon family have set up home in Bristol and pre-season has been busy but he knows that it will be a bit surreal this evening trying to plot the downfall of a Connacht side that he went into the trenches with for a decade and a half.

“It will be strange coming up against all the familiar faces, I’ve never played against Connacht in any shape or form. But I think it will be good for me, to break that cord with Connacht.

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“I’ll never forget Connacht, I’ll always be looking out for them every week but now I’m with Bristol and that’s where the future is.

“Everything moves on in professional rugby. Already there is a new coach in Connacht, a new captain and several new players that I have never met. The reality is that I was only another player in Connacht.

“I’m very proud of the fact that I spent so much time with Connacht as a player but the reality is that they have to move on and it’s the same with me,” he added.

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