Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
©INPHO/James Crombie Dave McSharry celebrates his try against Harlequins.
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Pro12: Connacht expect international quartet to feature against Treviso
The western province are also hoping to have captain Gavin Duffy back for the visit of the Italians.

CONNACHT BACKS COACH Billy Millard has told that he expects the province’s international quartet to return in time to line out against Treviso in Galway on Saturday.

The Australian says Mike McCarthy, Tiernan O’Halloran and John Muldoon have all been in regular contact with their provincial coaches while on Ireland duty.

He adds that Fetu’u Vainikolo has also been in touch, by phone and email, from his Tongan training camp in France.

Millard said, “We have been planning all week to have the guys back so, unless we hear different, that is how we will go into the weekend.”

The former Australia Sevens coach added, “Gavin (Duffy) has been in heavy conditioning and training for the past few weeks so he should be back in the mix.

“He’ll either start or come off the bench but he should play a part. Danie Poolman is back to full fitness too and he’s ready to rock.”

Backline emergence

Millard has overseen a change in the backline that has so far this season fired in a home win over Leinster, a Pro12 victory against Zebre and a close call against Harlequins in the Heineken Cup.

“Fetu’u was quiet the other day against Ospreys but he has certainly settled more at the club. Dan Parks has to take some of the credit for that as he pushes him hard.

“He is trying to get his hands on the ball a bit more and is seeing a bit more of it than last year. He’s going great in training so it’s not rocket science that he is translating it into our games.”

Millard highlights the emergence of Robbie Henshaw and Dave McSharry, a player ‘growing in confidence’, as reasons for belief out west and he praises young scrum-half Kieran Marmion for supplying quick, quality ball. However, Millard added:

If anything, we’re playing a little bit too much. In the Ospreys game we didn’t go direct and were trying to play a wide game. We played from wide areas and gave up an intercept try.

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“Defensively, we missed a lot of one-on-one tackles. That is is not like us.”

Treviso arrive at the Showgrounds on Saturday (kick-off at 5:00pm) and Connacht need a win to keep in touch with the sides in midtable.

With the game, inexplicably, not live on television for the second week in succession, Connacht have appealed to supporters to get along and cheer the team on.

“The atmosphere has been awesome this season,” said Millard, “and has really given the players that extra motivation.”

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