Andy Friend: Most important game yet

03 May 2023

Andy Friend: Most important game yet

This Friday Connacht travel to Kingspan Stadium where they take on Ulster in the Quarter-Finals of the United Rugby Championship (k/o is 7.35pm).

This will be Connacht's first play-off game in the URC since 2019. Andy Friend's side come into the game having lost just one of their last seven games in the compeition. A huge game for the side and one that the Connacht Director of Rugby can't wait for.

"It's right up there as one of the most important games in my time here"

"I remember the first season we had a very similar last eight tie up in Ulster which was a huge week"

"We've had some big games in between but in the present this is the most important"

From here on the season is knockout rugby and Andy says preperations don't vary too much from the 18 rounds had in the URC.

"I feel like we've had knockout game for the last seven weeks"

"We're zoning in on our performance and what we think we can do to win"

"Its been a really good week, the boys are training well and ready for Friday"

Heading up to Belfast is never an easy trip to make but Andy knows the pressure on both teams heading into the game.

"I think there's more pressure on them than there is on us"

"They finished second in the standings and beaten us twice already"

"I'd guess there is a weight of expectations with their fans who expect them to win this"

"They have everything to lose here"

"I know we have elements in attack and defence to cause them problems but we have to deliver as its no good just saying it"

The 2022/23 season began up in Belfast for Connacht and after a tough start where many didn't expect the men in green to reach the play-offs, Friend's side have grown over the last number of months becoming one of the most in-form teams heading into the final eight.

"That game in Kingspan back in September wasn't one of our best performances"

"That night they got on top of us in most area's of the field so we are very aware and respectful of the rugby they can play but we know we are a different team now"

"We've adjusted some things within our attack and defence"

"Even when we played them in December at The Sportsground we can see the huge improvements made with us"

Tickets and travel for Friday's game can be checked HERE