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‘People will write Connacht off against Toulouse. So be it’ – Flavin

The former Connacht hooker believes Toulouse have been the best team in Europe for the past decade.

Connacht's Craig Clarke has not enjoyed much success since joining from the Chiefs.
Connacht's Craig Clarke has not enjoyed much success since joining from the Chiefs.
Image: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

CONNACHT WILL BE looking to put in a big performance against Toulouse today. No-one expects anything of them but I can guarantee you that every lad who got on the plane to France will be expecting a lot of each other.

They are an honest group of people but there is not too much they could have said — other than seeking improvements — after losing so heavily to Edinburgh. There have been no attempts to paper over the cracks since.

Many of the fans that travelled to Edinburgh will be the same ones that are going to Toulouse. Pat Lam and John Muldoon coming out with statements demanding more of the team is a good starting point.

Mick Kearney should do a job with Craig Clarke in the second-row while they will be boosted by the return of John Muldoon to the back row. Mullers doesn’t suffer fools gladly. He sets high standards for himself and expects others to meet those standards. He has no problem letting people know — be it in training or in a match — if they are not towing the line.

He is a local lad and it means a hell of a lot for him when he pulls on that jersey. Having big George Naoupu in the back row is a boost. Picamoles is a fantastic player with such a strong lower body. He has an immense leg drive and is a really effective ball carrier. Names or reputations mean nothing to Naoupu, though, and he will revel facing off against someone like Picamoles.

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Louis Picamoles tackles John Muldoon in a 2011 Heineken Cup clash between Toulouse and Connacht. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Eoin Griffin and Dave McSharry have had their fair share of injuries in the past year so it is great to see them together in midfield. Griffin is a fantastic player. His footwork and acceleration is great and, although he does not come across as the biggest of guys, he possesses real strength. I had not heard of the rumours linking Griffin to Munster but I’m sure Connacht would be doing everything to sign him up, like they did with Kieran Marmion and Robbie Henshaw, soon.

The amount of players Connacht have injured or unavailable — names like Faloon, Poolman, Fafita, O’Halloran, Loughney — is frightening but they can’t dwell on it. In Toulouse, they are facing a club that has been the best in Europe, if not the world, over the last decade. There will be no hiding places.

You know Edwin Maka and Yoann Maestri are going to make themselves known early doors and then you have Guthro Steenkamp, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Census Johnston in the front row. The list of internationals goes on but, and I’ve been there before, you just get on with it.

People will write them off against Toulouse. So be it. Connacht will be going there to make a statement. Toulouse were beaten by Grenoble last week so they don’t have a right to victory.

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About the author:

Adrian Flavin  / Former Connacht hooker

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