'It was unbelievable running out on that field. I'm honoured to represent Connacht'

Wallaby Kyle Godwin savoured his first taste of northern hemisphere rugby at the Sportsground, despite Connacht’s one-point defeat.

WHILE HIS DEBUT experience was sullied somewhat by the disappointment of defeat, Kyle Godwin couldn’t hide the smile when asked to recount the moment he walked out at the Sportsground in a Connacht jersey for the first time.

The Wallaby centre followed up his exciting pre-season form during his Guinness Pro14 debut on Saturday afternoon, putting in another performance which stood out as one of the positives the province can build on.

Kyle Godwin Godwin showed glimpses of his exciting ability on Saturday. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Both in attack and defence, Godwin provided glimpses of his excellent technical abilities throughout the helter-skelter encounter with the Glasgow Warriors, while emerging as a real leader for Andy Friend’s side in the midfield channel.

The 26-year-old arrived in Galway off the back of a strong end to the Super Rugby season with the Brumbies and has hit the ground running in the northern hemisphere, showing creativity in attack and strength in defence.

Coming up against Scottish internationals Nick Grigg and Peter Horne on Saturday, Godwin made two line breaks in the first period with his physical stature standing out, while he didn’t miss any of his nine tackles.

“It was good, good to get into northern hemisphere rugby,” he reflected afterwards. “The crowd was amazing, it was a great atmosphere. A pity we couldn’t get that final result but a good first experience and hopefully I can personally grow and the team can grow from here.

“I was very impressed with the standard of rugby. It was a very quick game, again very physical. The ball movement is superior and I’m looking forward to progressing through the tournament and trying to develop more skills.”

On more than one occasion, Godwin’s strength in the tackle was evident and he already seems to have formed a good understanding with Tom Farrell, the pair linking fluidly with the rest of the backline in the first half in particular.

Connacht certainly possessed a cutting edge with ball in hand having fallen behind to Tommy Seymour’s early score, and the addition of Godwin to their backline provides another play-making option as well as important experience; he was very much at the heart of everything good Connacht did. 

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss as we don’t want to be a side that loses every week,” he continued. “But we can take positives out of it. We had the opportunities to put it away and come away with the win.

Kyle Godwin The centre was a vocal leader throughout the 80 minutes. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“We’ll reflect on that on Monday and make sure we’re better next week. There is definitely positive signs there. We went toe-to-toe with a very strong Glasgow side so that’s a positive.

 ”We need to make sure we keep those [positives] in mind going forward.”

The Monday morning review can, at least, be narrowed down to a couple of areas that let Connacht down, most notably their work-rate in defence, costly lapses in concentration and restarts which caused considerable damage at the weekend.

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Overall, however, Godwin was encouraged by the experience and has seen plenty in the dressing room and league itself that excites him for the season ahead.

“There’s a great tradition here, I mean it was unbelievable running out on that field today,” the centre added. “The Clan is unbelievable and I’m honoured to represent Connacht Rugby.

“We’re a strong side so we shouldn’t be taken lightly. We’ll look forward to taking on Zebre next week and making sure we get that win.” 

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Ryan Bailey

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