This Friday Connacht take on Munster in the BKT United Rugby Championship. A first home game of the season and on the new artificial surface at The Sportsground, (k/o 7.35pm).

Last Friday in Pretoria Connacht lost to the Vodacom Bulls which was their third defeat in-a-row, all coming away from home. For Andy Friend and his coaching team Friday’s Interprovincial-derby is one where a win is needed to kick start their season.

“We’re positive coming into this game on Friday but we’re not fools either because we are very aware we haven’t performed anywhere near our best” said Friend

“There’s been three losses against three good teams which is tough but our performances haven’t been where we need them to be”

“We’ve all put our hands up saying we need to be better”

“I see the energy and desire from the boys to get better, so while there is a disappointment in how we’ve started there’s real energy there to write the wrongs”

Munster come to Galway on Friday for what will be a massive Interprovincial-derby one which Andy and the squad are excited about.

“You can’t ask for a bigger game, our first game at home on a brand new pitch in front of family and friends”

“You have two teams at the moment that are searching for form”

“We need to be accurate on Friday and show real fight”

“It will be very emotional no doubt like derby’s are but I think the team that comes out on top will be be the ones who front up and make least mistakes”

One of the big frustrations for Connacht in the opening rounds of the new season has been the stop start nature in which the games have took, 36 penalties in total between Connacht and the Bulls last Friday is not something anyone wants to see. Andy gave is thoughts on the issue in the game.

“I think it is an issue because we are seeing games going on for two hours more and more regularly now”

“Fans don’t come to watch games for these large pauses”

“Players and coaches don’t want these long breaks either and it disrupts the flow of the game so much”

“There’s a few things to tidy up but lets hope this weekend will be the start of faster games and quicker decisions”

The world of rugby will have one eye down under for upcoming games in Queensland which will see new rules trialled out. The changes aim to increase the amount of ball-in-play time.

There will be limits on using the ball in the ruck, setting up for scrums, penalties, conversions and restarts to name a few. It’s an idea Andy likes and is interested to see how it works.

“I go back to my time with the 7s where there was a shot clock which was introduced there”

“If you didn’t kick the goal within a minute you didn’t kick the goal and the same with restarting”

“When players knew the clock was on these things were being done and no issues made”

“Anything that gives more ball-in-play time is a good thing for the game”

Coming into Friday’s game the new pitch at The Sportsground is the big talking point. The redevelopment of the ground is still only in the early stages but the new artificial surface is ready for Friday which Andy can’t wait for.

“We want to be a team that plays fast and this surface allows us to do that”

“Its a massive investment by Connacht Rugby and a brilliant one”

“Lets hope Friday night is the first of many good wins on it”

The Connacht squad for Friday will be announced at 12midday tomorrow.

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