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Clarity key for Connacht and Dillane

The Westerners were left frustrated by muddled information against Munster.

Image: James Crombie/INPHO

THE ENDGAME OF Connacht’s loss to Munster has been the source of much consternation and introspection over the past week and a half.

The 11-point gap between the teams in the Pro14/12 Conference B stands as a reminder for an all too recent memory of how the western province were unable to turn the screw from five metres out with 15 men against Munster’s 13 and just six points separating the sides approaching the final whistle.

“A lot of frustration because we really felt ‘we’re winning this’ and ‘we’re gonna win,’” said Ultan Dillane looking back on the missed opportunity this week.

Long story short, a case of mixed messages left Connacht between two minds and the last-gasp attack was a botched one.

“There were just different messages being sent around. So then, obviously, the forwards were thinking… ‘by the time we look up it’s going to be a try.’ But then it just ended up a little bit different.

“At least we had a really honest talk about it and we know we just need to be clearer when it comes to that.”

The frustration is clear within Dillane as he points to a similar case during the loss to Bristol. The hope now is that the post-Munster meeting, and a week of clear heads afterwards, will make the decision-making all the sharper whenever a similar scenario presents itself.

“I have no doubt that, if we are in a situation similar to that, I know we will be better equipped to make a collective decision that is decisive,” says Andy Friend.

Whatever that decision is, the head coach stresses the need for a single solution, rather than the muddle that appeared to scupper them against Munster.

“I’m not going to say we should have done something. It’s very easy to make a call from a box…

“We just weren’t decisive. One side thought we were going one way, another the other way, and we ended up doing what we did.

“The other message was that we promised them, ‘we trust you. But just pick one decision, and then as as 15 players back it.’

“And if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, that’s fine. But know that we trust you. You don’t need our approval for anything.”

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ultan-dillane Dillane on the run against Munster. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For his part, Dillane has been inspiring roars of approval from all corners over the past month. The lock has been in excellent form through Europe and the inter-pro window. With the Six Nations just around the corner, he’s not ready to let himself shift focus away from the here and now.

This past year has taught him that there is little point.

“It might have over the years but not any more,” the Kerryman says when asked if an Ireland call-up was on his mind.

“If we play well enough here, you get your merit from that. Your focus can’t be too far ahead like that because that will really wreck you if things don’t go well.”

Similarly, though there is uncertainty felt by so many players over their playing status as contracts come down for renewal, worrying is wasted energy for Dillane, despite his own contract being among the list of expiring.

“It could be a huge issue if you wanted it to be. There are so many people off contract, nearly 23 in our squad. Everyone is in the same boat.

“Every other week you could be coming in going ‘Oh have you been spoken to?’ It’s just a slower year for it and it will happen in its own time. Again, if you’re playing well, you should have nothing to worry about. It’s about maintaining that process.”

Dillane is measured and philosophical about the landscape. An indication of wisdom or 27-year-old maturity perhaps?

“I don’t know. It’s been a weird season.  How many games have been cancelled? This game could still be cancelled. So there’s no point in getting worked up over anything any more.

“You never know what’s coming.”

Ospreys on Sunday with a little luck.

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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