Ahead of Connacht’s big clash with Ulster on St Stephens Day, Pat Lam spoke about the easing injury list as well as the task at hand against the flying Ulster side.

“On our injury front we’re hopeful to have a few guys passing fitness tests as late as Wednesday or Thursday and a bigger squad to choose from for the Ulster game”, said the head coach.

“We were late coming back in the early hours of Monday morning after Newcastle but with the short enough turnaround and Christmas week, it was straight back into it by Monday lunchtime. Our confidence will come on the back of a good week’s work. Christmas Day will be spent with families so there has been a big emphasis on the front end of the week and getting a lot out of the few days together.

“Despite the loss at the weekend, there were some positive learnings we can take forward. We went through the same process with the review, highlighting areas we can improve for this weeks game. We signed that off and it’s full steam ahead on our preparation for Ulster now.

“It’s great to be back to the PRO12 again and the back-to-back interpros at this time of year is always an exciting time for us as well as for the supporters.

“Ulster deservedly are full of confidence following their two impressive wins over Toulouse. I watched both games and it was an unbelievable performance from them against a quality French side. Ulster are the form Irish team at the moment and we understand the challenge we face with them coming to the Sportsground on Saturday.

“Our main priority has to be to focus on the process of how we are going to beat this Ulster team. Our win over Munster just reinforces the idea of focusing on the process and not the occasion. Of course there is emotion after the game because these derby games have an extra bite to them and its neighbours against neighbours so it means that bit more once the job is done.

“We feel we missed an opportunity against Ulster this time last year at Kingspan Stadium and were extremely disappointed not to put the game away.

“We know we have to be extremely accurate or they will punish us. Nailing our detail and being clinical for 80 minutes will be crucial. That focus started on Monday. We have to be so detailed in every training session and every meeting to ensure that everyone is on the same page and in a position to execute the game plan we believe can win us the game.

“This fixture traditionally attracts some of our biggest crowds of the season and with the game nearly a sell-out, this weekend won’t be any different. The home crowd will play a huge part in Saturday’s game. Our first interpro at the Sportsground and it’s all set up for a great night so we need to make sure we give our supporters something to shout about. We are unbeaten at home and depite the big challenge we face on Saturday we are determined to keep that record intact going into 2016.”

The Connacht team to face Ulster will be named on Thursday at 12 noon.

Remaining tickets for the St Stephens Day clash are available here.

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