Last week Andy Friend announced this will be his final season with Connacht Rugby. Ahead of this Saturday’s massive Interprovincial derby away to Munster in the BKT United Rugby Championship, the Connacht Director of Rugby spoke to media about calling time on his stay out West.
“It’s something me and Willie Ruane (Connacht CEO) have been aware of and others since I signed that last contract”
“Its good to get it out there and have the clarity there for everybody but it doesn’t change my focus or desire to hopefully win as many games as we can between now and the end of the season”
Between now and the 6 Nations, block two sees Connacht play ten games in-a-row in what will be a crucial period for the men in green regards URC and Europe. The last three weeks saw the International sides take over giving Andy, the coaches and players a chance to recharge ahead of this next block.
“Everyone had ten days off after the Ospreys game which I think was needed for coaches and players”
“Now that we have everyone back its all eyes on Munster”
“This is an important ten week block for us”
“We are all very aware of the first block of games we had but I think we’re well positioned for these games going forward”
One of the big questioned asked after coming back from the International break was if Connacht’s Irish players would be available this week?
“We have our Irish players available” said Andy
“From an IRFU point of view, those Irish players are allowed play seven of the next nine games before the 6 Nations kicks off”
November was a good one for Andy Farrell and his team and a lot of impressive displays from the Connacht players involved which Andy Friend spoke about.
“That last penalty which Ross Byrne kicked came from a scrum which Finlay (Bealham) got good dominance and he was heavily involved in winning that penalty”
“I thought all three of the boys (Bundee, Finlay and Mack) played well against Australia and great to see Cian Prendergast get his first cap during that block”
“It was also great to see Caolin Blade, Gavin Thornbury and Dave Heffernan in those camps as well”
Saturday see’s Connacht make the trip to Thomond Park where Munster await, Andy will be hoping his side get off to a good start in this window but knows the challenge that’s coming.
“Yeah its an important game but every game is”
“Munster away at Thomond Park is never an easy task but I thought we were close last year and the previous year we won there”
“You can’t just rock up to Thomond and think you’re going to win, you’ve got to work your backside off and bring an element of physicality along with accuracy in what you are doing”
The Connacht team for Saturday’s game will be named this Friday.