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Dublin: 12 °C Tuesday 7 July, 2020

Tom Farrell hoping for another springboard into European action

‘I arrived in Galway on the Monday and was playing in the Champions Cup on the Saturday’.

TOM FARRELL, UNLIKE swathes of Connacht players before him, wasn’t a wet week in the Sportsground when he made his Champions Cup debut.

And now the 26-year old is hoping for another springboard against his native Leinster this evening as they prepare for Europe next week.

It’s only the second time that Connacht have qualified for the Champions Cup on merit but Farrell, drafted in by Pat Lam as emergency injury cover in January 2017, would have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about when he arrived in Galway after a stint with Bedford Blues in England.

“I arrived in Galway on the Monday and I was playing in the Champions Cup on the Saturday, it was weird. It was against Zebre at home.”

tom-farrell Farrell looks for a break against Zebre in 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Farrell, who has now chalked up 55 appearances for Connacht, appreciates that men like John Muldoon and Michael Swift toiled for years before they got the chance to play in Europe’s top competition. And he rode in on their coat-tails.

“I was quite lucky. It just fell at the right time. I was fortunate enough that there was quite a lot of injuries in the centre at the time. It just fell for me. Pat Lam was good enough to put me on the bench against Zebre and I got maybe 25 minutes and that was the start of it.

“The following week I was on the bench for Toulouse away which was a pretty cool experience. I didn’t get on but just to be involved was fantastic.”

He is looking forward to the start of the Heineken Champions Cup next weekend at home to Montpellier but first there is this evening’s eagerly-awaited clash against Leinster when he will team up with another Dublin native Peter Robb in a centre clash with former Connacht star Robbie Henshaw and Joe Tomane.

tom-farrell Farrell sets himself against the Dragons. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Farrell goes into this evening’s clash against his native province in top form, having come off the bench to score two tries in the win over Cheetahs before making his first start of the season in the win away to Ospreys last weekend.

Bundee Aki is back for Connacht to crank up the pressure for game-time but Farrell, who was brought into Ireland training camps by Joe Schmidt last winter, has a simple goal for this campaign.

“Personally, for me it would be just to continue where I have been with Connacht over the last year or so. Trying to maintain my place in the team would be first and foremost.

“We do have quite a lot of centres at the moment. Even with Bundee away we still had three or four of us in the senior squad with a couple of the young lads in the academy pushing through now as well. For me it is just trying to keep my place and go from there.”

We thought there might be a post-World Cup comedown, but then Saracens went and Saracened. Andy Dunne joins Sean Farrell and Gavan Casey as the pod segues from the international to club season.

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John Fallon

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