Pete Wilkins: Preview to Connacht v Ulster

20 December 2022

Pete Wilkins: Preview to Connacht v Ulster

This Friday at The Sportsground there is a massive Interprovincial derby as Connacht welcome Ulster to Galway for Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, k/0 7.35pm.

Connacht left France last weekend with their second win in this season's Challenge Cup but the win did come at a cost with injuries to Gavin Thornbury and Paul Boyle. Connacht Head coach Pete Wilkins was asked if he felt foul played occurred and if he feels punishment should have happened.

"We're more concerned about the two lads really than anything"

"Once we get an update on the seriousness and duration of the injury layoff we will have a better map of how long they will be out for"

"Away games in France can get very emotional and physical"

"For Gavin (Thornbury) who had a few bad injury layoffs over the last few seasons its so disappointing to see him get such a bad injury because the work that guy has done to get himself back into shape is of a proper professional and a real example to younger players, but now he's been dealt this blow but we are hoping it isn't as bad as feared"

"We want to make sure both Gav and Paul are alright and there's plenty of support around them during this rehab period"

Attention for the rest of the squad now turns to a crunch derby fixture at home this Friday with Ulster coming to town. Pete gave his thoughts on how both teams look coming into the game.

"Its an interesting one coming into it"

"There's the angle for us which is that we enjoy playing against Ulster as we love the challenge of it, we love the intensity of the matches whether at Kingspan or The Sportsground"

"Its a special week and an exciting week for the lads"

"We've added in the disappointment of how we played when we were up there in Kingspan this season"

"We have improved a lot since that game but for us to close the loop on that we need to win this weekend"

"Ulster's narrative is that they come looking to bounce back after their last three weeks of defeat where a lot has been written about them"

"They won't lack for motivation or intent at the start of the game so its up to us to impose our personality on the occasion and opposition and make sure we get a chance to fire some shots and make a statement ourselves"

Coming into Friday's game Connacht have a number of players back in selection contention with the likes of Finlay Bealham and Mack Hansen. After two good performances in Europe the Connacht coaching ticket have a bit of picking and choosing to do ahead of announcing the squad.

"We've got some established first team and international players back fresh and available but at the same time we have lads that have put their hands up over the last few weeks"

"Its not an easy week to pick a 23 when you have so many good players to choose from and really giving us coaches headaches in a positive way"

"The important thing during this period is we have games coming thick and fast so which ever guys aren't involved this week will have important parts to play"

Tickets for Friday's game can be got  HERE

The Connacht match day squad will be announced on Thursday.