When the Guinness PRO12 resumes this weekend, it will be three weeks since Connacht last played a match due to the change of scheduling on the back of the Rugby World Cup.

Pat Lam’s men have been working behind the scenes in Galway preparing for the visit of Cardiff Blues in round 3 of the competition.

Wing Matt Healy, now in his fourth season with Connacht, says the team can’t wait to get back playing:

“There’s a great buzz in the squad. We’re quite happy with how the season has started with the win against Dragons. Although we lost against Glasgow, I thought we played some really good rugby and were quite unlucky not to win in the end. But to get two points after the comeback was somewhat pleasing.”

26-year-old Healy was a late withdrawal from the round 2 game at Scotstoun Stadium:

“Yea I had a small issue with a dead leg but that’s cleared up nicely and I’m feeling good and raring to go again.”

With two weekends of no competitive action, the PRO12 teams have had more time to analyse their opposition and prepare for the upcoming fixture. Commenting on the threats that Cardiff pose this weekend, Healy said:

“Cardiff play a very physical, direct game. This season, they are probably a bit more efficient in what they do in defence. They spread the line and fill the field quite well. We have a few set plays that we believe will challenge them in that area, provided we stick to our structures.”

The word ‘revenge’ has cropped up around this fixture after last year’s meetings where the Welsh side secured a last minute draw at the Sportsground and fought their way back to a late one-point win at Arms Park. But Healy insisted that the focus has switched to this season and the renewed goal of Champions Cup qualification.

“I wouldn’t say its revenge that’s on the mind. I think we were all frustrated with the two games last year, especially at Arms Park when we let them run through over 20 phases to snatch the game at the end. That was really disappointing. But I think since then, we’ve grown even more as a squad. We’re all just really looking forward to getting back on to the pitch and showcasing what we’ve been working on over the summer and the last couple of weeks with the break.“

After two rounds, Cardiff find themselves in fifth place on the PRO table, just one point behind Connacht. They ran in 11 tries against Zebre in round 1 but a late rally from Leinster at the RDS saw the hosts take the spoils. New coach Danny Wilson has already stated that getting back to the top tier of Europe has to be a goal, so no doubt Cardiff will be a team battling it out for a place in the top six of the league.

“I think it’s a little early in the season to be thinking about who’s behind us or in front of us”, said Healy.  “We’re thinking week by week but of course, getting every point is crucial. Those two points against Glasgow might prove critical at the end of a long season.

“Every win is vital. Saturday is another opportunity to get four or even five points so that’s our main focus right now. It’s going to be a big game at the Sportsground.”

Connacht ‘Back of the Year’, Healy was also top try scorer last season. Danie Poolman and new signing Nepia Fox-Matamua are leading that charge now with two scores a-piece but Healy jokingly stated he hopes to catch up soon:

“Yea, I think last year was quite similar where Danie got a good few early in the season and I was slow to catch up. I am just keen to get back out and start playing consistently. It’s been a bit of a stop-start beginning to the season with the World Cup and then I picked up that knock. But training has been going really well and on a personal level, I feel fresh and am looking forward to getting out there…..and hopefully getting one or two on the score sheet.”

Connacht play Cardiff Blues at the Sportsground on Saturday October 3rd at 5pm. Tickets are available here.

 

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