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'No wrath of Pat yet but he's capable of it' says Connacht's John Muldoon

Pat Lam is a laid-back guy, says the flanker, but he will have no problems invoking the Eric Elwood roar if needs be.

John Muldoon is raring to go after completing a full pre-season programme.
John Muldoon is raring to go after completing a full pre-season programme.
Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

PAT LAM HAS been in-situ with Connacht since April and all reports to date have been of a genial, rugby-loving chap who is determined to infuse some Kiwi flair in his playing staff.

The New Zealander arrived in Galway four months ago and was kindly given an insight into Connacht’s way of thinking when he shadowed Eric Elwood for his final months as head coach. If Lam was given access to the home dressing room, he may have witnessed an expletive-filled speech similar to ones that featured in the fly-on-the-wall documentary [The West's Awake] about the club last season.

Connacht flanker John Muldoon is enthused about what he has seen from Lam and his new coaching staff since the reins were officially handed over.

He told TheScore.ie, “Pat has settled in very well. He is looking to bring about a new style of play and we are all adapting well to it. Pat has his own style; he’s Kiwi through and through. He wants us to play with the ball a bit more.”

If Lam wishes to retain the ball, a certain amount of trust must be placed in his forwards to build phases will making inroads and in his backline to carry out attacking moves to the letter while keeping an eye for gaps. ‘Dan Parks and wait’ may not be the go-to pass for young scrumhalf Kieran Marmion.

It has yet to surface yet but Muldoon has no fear of Lam aiming both verbal barrels at his new charges if they fall short of expectations. “There has been no wrath of Pat yet but he’s capable of it,” he remarked. “It certainly is simmering there if needs to come out.”

imagePat Lam oversees a Connacht training session. ©INPHO/James Crombie

While Connacht may be hindered by the late arrival of David Ellis — the backs and skills coach lands at the province next week — their coach should have a ready-made acolyte in new signing Craig Clarke. The second-row, who was named in the Connacht match-day squad to face Newcastle Falcons this weekend, pitches up in Galway having captained the Chiefs to successive Super Rugby titles.

“To have someone of Craig’s experience and talent arrive is a massive boost for the squad,” said Muldoon. “Many people may have felt he would have been eased into action but Craig was eager to get out there and train, and play, with his new teammates. It speaks a lot for his commitment to the cause.”

Muldoon’s personal commitment is to secure a slot in the Connnact back-row and hold off a procession of challengers. The flanker was in excellent form at the beginning of last season and featured for Ireland XV in their win over Fiji. However, as Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy set Thomond Park alight, Muldoon was contemplating a long slog back from a knee injury [sustained in the 38th minute] that ruled him out of action for three months.

He reflected, “I had been injury free for a few seasons then I had foot and knee injuries last season. Sport is like that. I’ve had a good pre-season and I’m ready to fight for my position. We have lads like Willie Falloon, Eoin McKeon and George Naoupu in the back-row. It won’t be easy but I’m ready for the battle.”

imageThe new Connacht home and away jerseys are available in stores from 23 August. Orders can be made here.

Connacht's first four RaboDirect Pro12 games of the season -- three at home and one away to underwhelming Cardiff -- are eminently winnable but Muldoon insists the focus is on defeating Zebre first time out. Another Heineken Cup season awaits, courtesy of Leinster's Challenge Cup win, and the flanker is eager to build on the three pool stage wins last season.

Muldoon said, "We have made some great signings and there are some excellent young Connacht players coming through. The physicality of the game is increasing all the time but we now have some strength in depth to build on the progress we made last season."

*A limited number of Clan Stand season tickets are available ahead of the league kick-off on Saturday, 7 September. Click here for more information>>>

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Patrick McCarry

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