The Connacht head coach and captain have said they can't wait to get started on their European campaign for the season.
For the fifth time Connacht will compete in the Heineken Champions Cup, thanks to a quarter-final finish in last season's Guinness PRO14.
Speaking at last week's EPCR launch in Cardiff, head coach Andy Friend says the squad will be relishing the occasions which begin this weekend at home to Montpellier. It’s a real opportunity for us. We haven’t been in there for a few years now. We earned the right to get in there this year from last year, with our quarter-final finish in the Pro14, so we’re with the big boys and looking forward to it.
It’s always great to have a French team travelling. Montpellier, we know the strength of them, they’re a quality side, they’re having a good season this year, but to welcome them to the Sportsground is going to be good for our fans.
Once we got in, people start sending in clips and comments about their greatest memories in a Champions Cup: beating Toulouse, beating Wasps, so they’re two special moments that Connacht fans certainly remember and, hopefully, we can give them a few other ones to remember this year.
Captain Jarrad Butler will be competing in the Heineken Champions Cup for the first time, and he's equally looking forward to the opportunity of testing themselves against the best. I’m really excited. To qualify for the Champions Cup is a reflection of the previous year and being able to perform at a high level. So, getting to play against some of the best teams in Europe, or the best teams in Europe, is an exciting prospect and I can't wait.
There’s been a serious buzz, you know. I came from New Zealand and Australia, so I didn't know much about the Champions Cup competition, but you talk to fans, you talk to players and, you know, some of their fondest memories are from playing in the Champions Cup. It’s beating your Toulouses at home, and the amount of fans that have already spoken about, you know, [how] they’ve booked their flights to Toulouse and Montpellier and things like that, you know. For me personally, it's just cool to see.
Everyone talks so highly about it, you can't help but just kind of get caught up in the buzz, I suppose. Hopefully we can make some more and I can have some good memories for myself in the coming weeks anyway.
Montpellier are such a big team, and to have them down at The Sportsground is an exciting prospect, I think, for the fans and for us as a playing group alike, and I’m looking forward to getting the campaign started in good fashion as well. Connacht begin their Heineken Champions Cup campaign at home to Montpellier this Sunday at the Sportsground, and tickets are still available.
[maxbutton id="16" ]