Having represented the province in his playing days and managed the Academy for 13 years, Nigel Carolan knows Connacht Rugby inside out.

The Galway native also spent two years as the Ireland U20s Head Coach, so Carolan has no shortage of experience and rugby expertise and he has been delighted with the first four days of pre-season in his new role as Assistant Coach.

How are you finding your new role?

“It’s very interesting and it’s been with sort of nervous excitement. The new regime got together last week when KK (new Head Coach Kieran Keane) was over and we crammed a lot into the week. It was great to share our ideas and  expectations and what’s important to us with the new regime.

“Everyone has been aligned and there is a smile on everybody’s face. Everybody’s working really hard but enjoying the experience, which I think is most important. Guys don’t mind working and putting in the hours and the hard effort knowing that everybody is working really hard for each other and it has been very positive. The first few days have been really tough for the guys, their training volume has been particularly high but they’re enjoying that and they’re starting to see the benefits already.”

Fresh new coaching team…

“It’s inevitable in professional sport that there is always going to be change but it’s just fresh ideas, it’s new, it’s a different voice. There are no pre-conceived notions or expectations on players so starting from day one everyone is on an even keel again and with that it just brings that level of excitement.

“There is probably a new way we will be looking to play the game and the players are certainly excited by that and we’re certainly excited as coaches to be facilitating that.”

Continuity in the playing squad…

“When you get so much change happening at management and coaching level it’s important to have the core of the players remain. 80-85% of the squad is still intact and for them it’s just a new voice but it’s always good to get fresh blood in the playing group too.

“We must ensure we have a competitive squad in each position and that players are chomping at the bit to work their way up the rankings. That level of competition among the players will hopefully make us a formidable side this year.”

John Muldoon in his 15th pre-season at the province… 

“It’s like it’s his first. The attitude that he brings, he’s just so enthusiastic. He doesn’t have to say much but when he does, the guys listen. He’s enjoyed his first few days. He enjoyed meeting KK last week and seeing the road that he wants to take this team down and he’s very enthused by it so you wouldn’t think it’s his 15th pre-season.

“He’s a seasoned pro at this stage but he’s certainly leading by example and he’s enjoying his first few days back.”

Getting to know Kieran Keane…

“We had a week with him last week and we crammed a lot into it. It wasn’t all rugby, it is important that we get to know the man and find out what he’s like away from rugby and we had a couple of opportunities for that and he’s great.

“For him, the only disappointing thing was that he had to head back to New Zealand, he wanted to stay and get his teeth stuck into pre-season here. We had a Skype this morning at 7am and we filled him in on what’s happening and the mood in the camp so he’s not too far away and is keeping a close eye on things.”

Tick Tock . . .

5pm tomorrow evening (Friday, July 7) is the deadline to purchase a Season Ticket if you wish to be included in our first delivery of Season Ticket cards. If you purchase before the deadline, you will have your card in time for the pre-season friendly against Bristol at the Sportsground – which is included in the Season Ticket offer.

Sign-up now to be included in the first delivery here!

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