Pete Wilkins: Champions Cup preview

15 January 2024

Pete Wilkins: Champions Cup preview

Saturday in Lyon was one that started so well for Connacht against their French hosts when Sean Jansen scored a wonder try in the opening ten minutes of the game.

Unfortunately it would be the only time in the game Connacht would take the lead as the home side found their groove and went on to win the game 34-20.

Connacht Head Coach Pete Wilkins gave his thoughts on the game.

"It was very frustrating because we felt going in that we had a plan and saw enough opportunities for what would have been a really big win for the club"

"We left the game knowing Lyon deserved to win that game with how they played"

"Lyon had 60% posession and around 70% territory"

"I told the lads that we have actually won games this season where stats have been similar to that"

"We've shown this season when teams have a lot of the ball, like Munster did recently we can keep them out and we know when we get chance on the ball we can hurt teams"

"Saturday we just weren't consistent enough"

Going into the game when the team was announced by Wilkins and his coaching team questions were asked, 'where is Bundee?' and why isn't he playing, along with Finlay Bealham who also didn't play. Pete explained the reason for not picking the two Irish inetrnationals.

"The way it works is we have a really clear guidance from the IRFU in terms of the amount of games they can play in any given block of the season"

"It is up to us then in terms of how we use the players in those blocks and when we play them and rest them"

"You have to minitor how many minutes they are playing as well in those game, how are their minds holding up as well because you don't want to run any player into the ground"

"Its a tricky one for us because it was a game we would have loved to play the two but you have to weigh them up and look at the games being played"

"Since they have come back from the World Cup we had two big games in South Africa, three massive Champions Cup games and three extremely tough inetrpro games games"

"There's never really a good time to deload these lads because you want them for every game, but we have to is the thing"

Going into the final round of pool games there is still a slight chance of Connacht making the knockout stages of the tournament but it is depending on different results to go their way

A bonus point win over Bristol this Friday and denying the English side any point would see the western province head to the Challenge Cup. 

One man making his way back to Galway this week is Pat Lam, the Bristol boss led Connacht to the Pro12 title back in 2016 and Wilkins says the club are excitied to see him again.

"He's a good man who had great success here"

"We look forward to seeing him but theres so much at stake in this game"

"We will shake hands before and hopefully have a beer afterwards"