When Connacht last met Exeter Chiefs it was a pre-season friendly in August 2012. At the same time, Danie Poolman had just arrived in Galway from Super Rugby’s DHL Stormers but was unable to travel to Sandy Park due to a hamstring injury.

Now in his third season with Connacht, the 25-year-old South African has played 37 games for the Irish province and starts on the wing in this afternoon’s Challenge Cup clash.

Looking ahead to the game which kicks off at 3pm today, Poolman said:

“Exeter are known as a physical and relentless side. They’re got a few very good individuals but their strength is that they play very well as a team. There’s a really good team spirit there. I have no doubt that they will come out firing so we need to be able to counter that.

“They’ve got a big squad so it’s no surprise that they’ve put out a really good team for today. But testing ourselves against a top premiership side in a different competition is exciting. While we know they’ll be very good at home, we have confidence in ourselves and our own structures and systems”

A versatile back, Poolman can switch from wing to the centre with ease but has played all 405 minutes of his rugby this season on the wing. Playing in a notably young backline, Poolman is enjoying the successful start to Connacht’s season with five wins, a draw and just one loss on the results page:

“It’s a very positive camp. We’re taking confidence from our performances but after every game review we just look at what we can do better. Everyone is working extremely hard. After training sessions, you can see guys staying out on the pitch 20-30 minutes longer just working on their extras and looking for small improvements.  

With just two games left before a well-deserved week off in early November Poolman said there is no fear of players taking the foot off the pedal:

“We have to give it our all in these next two games before we even think about a break. Exeter is the focus now and then it’s another tough challenge with Ospreys six days later.”

Connacht face Exeter today, Saturday October 25th at 3pm. The match is not on TV but supporters can listen to live coverage on Galway Bay FM radio, sponsored by Life Style Sports.

Connacht return to the Sportsground on Friday November 21st to take on Zebre. Tickets are available here.


Gallery: 6 Nations and Celtic Challenge