Andy has a sense of Perpose
Connacht v Perpignan Pool Three, Sportsground, 3pm
CONNACHT have ground to make up if they are to earn a quarter-final but the main focus for Andy Friend’s men is getting back among Europe’s elite next season.
To that end they need to back up their three wins in a row in the PRO14 with a good return from the three festive derbies if they are to continue the push to reaching the Champions Cup next season.
They could – and should – go into the first of those at Leinster on December 22 on the back of five wins in a row.
Perpignan, facing almost certain relegation after 11 losses in a row in the Top
14, arrive in Galway for today’s clash in shock after former player Barend Britz was killed in an attack outside his pub on Thursday night. As expected, they have only brought about half their first team but Friend – boosted by the availability of Bundee Aki and two other Irish aces in Quinn Roux and Finlay Bealham – is leaving nothing to chance.
“They’re a Top 14 team who may not be having much success but with every week that goes by when they don’t have that win, they will be trying even harder to get it,” he warned.
“We’ve respected all the opposition we play. We know what their potential strengths are but we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them, we flag a few themes but it’s more about what we produce.”
RESPECT Andy Friend is wary of French strugglers
RETURN Quinn Roux is back in the second row