A new chapter begins this week for Connacht Rugby with the first ever game being played on the new artificial playing surface at The Sportsground. A massive Interprovincial-derby against Munster to kick it all off this Friday in the BKT United Rugby Championship, (k/o 7.35pm).

While the opening three rounds of the new season have been tough, confidence in the camp is high and the excitment grows as we get closer to kick-off.

After arriving back from South Africa on Sunday, Tuesday was the first chance the players got to test out the new surface. Speaking to the media ahead of the game with Munster, Finlay Bealham gave his thoughts on the new pitch.

“We got a feel of it today and we’re really excited by it”

“Walking on the pitch for the first time everyone was buzzing”

“It looks incredible as well”

“I can’t wait and I know the rest of the lads can’t wait to get out on it Friday”

This Connacht team is one which likes to play quick attacking rugby so the new pitch should definitely suit the game they are looking for.

“I’m sure everyone knows that we get a lot of rain and wind around here so the pitch can take a bit of a beaten by the time Novembers comes around, but now with this new pitch we can play our brand of rugby all year round which is great”

“We have great footballers in the squad, real natural footballers as well I’d say so we can’t wait to get more hands on the ball and play at the pace we want”

As much as the focus will be on the new artificial playing surface coming into the game, for the squad all eyes are on Munster and the job in hand.

“An interpro and first home game of the season, there’s not much more motivation needed than that to get the blood pumping”

“We always love playing Munster because we know this is a battle, we know the physicality they will bring so we will need to meet fire with fire”

“These are the games you want to play in”

Interprovincial-derby’s are always special occasions, every game supporters play such an important role but when you come up against provincial neighbours the noise from the stands and terraces seem to reach different levels, levels Finlay expects to hear again this Friday.

“We have the best fans in the world”

“Win, lose or draw they are always there and they know the hard work we put in”

“For the size of the stadium, sometimes it does feel like we are playing in front of 50000 because of the noise our fans make”

“We get some amount of energy from the support, not to have the home support for the last three weeks in-a-row have been felt but we can’t wait for Friday”

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