This Saturday at The Sportsground Connacht take on Ospreys in Round 1 of the United Rugby Championship as the 2023/24 season begins.
Attention from the rugby world has been focused on France over the last month with the World Cup in progress, but after six long months the club game is back.
Ireland's World Cup dream ended on Saturday night in Paris as New Zealand advanced to the last four. Connacht Head Coach Pete Wilkins spoke about the mood in the Connacht camp on the back of that defeat for the International side, as well as getting ready for their first game.
"There's a bit of everything really, we're really excited that it's week one of the URC but obvisouly disappointed about the Irish result"
"Our thoughts are with Ireland and especially our three men, knowing the disappointment that they will be dealing with over the next few days and possibly longer"
Connacht trio, Bundee Aki, Finlay Bealham and Mack Hansen all played a major role for Ireland in this World Cup but the question now is, when will they be returning to The Sportsground?
"It is to be confirmed" said Wilkins
"They will need a minimum of three to four weeks to recover properly. That physically as well as mentally"
"We've been in contact with them and we will speak again at the end of this week where we will work out a plan"
Last season Connacht began their season with three away games, whereas this season they begin with three games at The Sportsground.
"The fixtures don't get any easier in the URC, I don't think there's an easy game in this league which might sound like a massive cliche" said Wilkins
"We do have to recognise three home games as a massive opportunity and make the most of that"
"That said, no one is just going to give you points because you are at home"
"We have three challenging games at home against Ospreys, Glasgow and Ulster to start our season"
"Its all good saying you have three games at home compared to what we had last season but it's only great if you win them"
First up is the Ospreys at The Sportsground and Pete expects a tough battle agaisnt the Welsh side.
"We've never come up against an Ospreys team that isn't unbelievably physcial and well organised, that's part of the DNA in terms of the success that the club has had"
"We expect this to be a very physical game"
"For all our ambition of what we want to do with the ball and the way we might want to play the game, first and foremost you have to front up physically"
"Being at home though we will want to assert our style of play and show what way we want to play this season, to do that though we will need to earn the right"
The Connacht team for Saturday will be named this Friday. Tickets for the game can be got HERE