Galway-born prop Ronan Loughney is in his tenth season at Connacht Rugby and following hip surgery in May he returned for his first PRO12 game last week at Thomond Park, having made his season debut in Russia earlier in the month.

Having been in many disappointed Connacht sides coming away from the Limerick venue, the Galway man said that Saturday’s win was certainly a special one:

“Yea it’s been a good week”, he smiled. “Obviously it’s always great to come in on a Monday after a win. It was a long time since a Connacht team had won down there so we enjoyed it.”

There wasn’t too much time to celebrate, however, as attention quickly turned to the next game away to Cardiff Blues.

“Yea, we were pretty much back into game mode straight away. Cardiff on Friday night is another massive game for us. At the start of the season, we highlighted the importance of us getting away wins in order to achieve our goal. So everyone had to be fully focused on Cardiff, especially as it was a short turn around before we travelled again.”

Loughney, who has played an impressive 167 times for his home province, admits that being at the top of the table could bring external pressure:

“I suppose from the outside looking in, there is more pressure on us after last week’s win but for us, we just take each week as it comes and focus on the game that is coming up. We don’t change our process regardless of the type of win or loss and that’s what is working well for us.”

Pat Lam’s men travel to Arms Park this week, a ground in which they have lost the past two seasons:

“We’ve been disappointed in games against Cardiff before, especially that game last year where we lost by one point after their score in the last play of the game. But, being injured for the start of this season and watching from the sidelines, I’ve noticed that there just seems to be a lot more maturity and confidence in the way we’re finishing games. For example against Munster, down to 14 men, the confidence was there to spot and take the opportunity instead of kicking it away.

“We’ve done a good bit of analysis on Cardiff and it’s not that long ago since we played them in round 3 so we know what threats are there. They are a strong mauling side and up front we know what we’ll be facing.”

Cardiff Blues v Connacht kicks off on Friday night at 7:05pm and will be broadcast live on BBC Wales and TG4.

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


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