Early on Monday morning a 36-man Connacht squad set off for a five-day training camp in France that includes the first of the province's pre-season games.
This Friday night will see Connacht take on Top 14 heavyweights Clermont Auvergne in Issoire as part of the 2014 Challenge Auvergne de Rugby.
The starting line-up will be announced on Thursday from the following traveling squad:
Forwards (20) - Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Sean Henry, David Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, Nathan White, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Aly Muldowney, Quinn Roux, Michael Kearney, Andrew Browne, Michael Swift, Eoghan Masterson, Daniel Qualter, Jake Heenan, Willie Faloon, John Muldoon, George Naoupu, Eoin McKeon.
Backs (16) - Tiernan O'Halloran, Darragh Leader, Shane Layden, Fionn Carr, Matt Healy, Niyi Adeolokun, Danie Poolman, Shane O'Leary, David McSharry, Miah Nikora, Craig Ronaldson, Ian Porter, Kieran Marmion, Caolin Blade, Conor Finn, Jack Carty.
Players in italics have been reintroduced to training following surgeries but will be unavailable to play in Friday's clash with Clermont. Ireland international Kieran Marmion is resting as part of the player welfare programme following the summer tour to Argentina in June.
Sub-Academy forward Shane Delahunt has been included as cover for recovering hookers Jason Harris-Wright and Sean Henry as well as the incoming Tom McCartney.
The 20-year-old from Birr, County Offaly was capped for Ireland Under-20s against Scotland in January of this year. Delahunt is joined by Academy players Caolin Blade and Eoghan Masterson who also provide cover for the westerners' squad.
Robbie Henshaw, Ronan Loughney, Harris-Wright and Mata Fifita will all continue with their rehab programmes in Galway this week under the watchful eye of senior fitness coach Jim Molony.
Incoming players Mils Muliaina, Bundee Aki, McCartney and John Cooney will complete the 41-man squad in the coming weeks.
Speaking about the week ahead and the game against Clermont Auvergne, head coach Pat Lam said: "This is a very important phase in our pre-season preparations. After five weeks of training together in Galway, the squad will be able to get out to France with no interruptions.
"That's the beauty of these trips. We can get away as a large squad and take the opportunity to test out our new systems and structures on the pitch. The week is also useful for building on relationships, especially with new guys coming in this season.
"As a player and coach, these trips can be hugely beneficial as long as the proper structures have been put in place. The management team have spent a lot of time preparing for this week and ensuring we get the most out of it.
"On Friday, we're playing Clermont in what will be their last hit-out before their opening Top 14 game against Grenoble the following week. In that regard, we expect a tough encounter but this fixture is less about the result, and more about how we perform.
"We want to give everyone some game-time and try out different combinations ahead of the season kick-off and our game against Wasps in two weeks' time.
"I'm very pleased with the preparation that has been done to date and looking forward to a good week from everyone in France."
There is a lot more than just bragging rights on the line at Thomond Park as despite being nicely positioned in the GUINNESS PRO12 table, third-placed Munster and Connacht, in sixth, both have teams below them ready to pounce if they lose again.
Late tries from Louis Ludik and Paul Marshall secured a 36-17 bonus point victory for Ulster over the plucky Cardiff Blues, as Neil Doak's men cut Glasgow Warriors' lead at the top of the GUINNESS PRO12 to just two points.
Speaking to Rob Murphy after Connacht's PRO12 victory over the Dragons, head coach Pat Lam said: "There are some things to learn from, but we're pleased to start with a win. When you consider nine in that starting group are under 23, it's good to see some of those talented guys get a chance - particularly the new ones."
Irish Rugby TV ventured west to cover the launch of Mazda's continued support of Connacht Rugby. We hear from new arrival and Mazda Ambassador Mils Muliaina, Kieran Marmion, Jake Heenan and former captain Gavin Duffy.
Looking forward to the new GUINNESS PRO12 season, Connacht captain John Muldoon said: "We've a lot of younger guys who have big years ahead of them and a few big name signings who will hopefully be able to fit into the system and work hard among the ethos of Connacht Rugby."
Irish Rugby TV was at the launch of the GUINNESS PRO12 and we caught up with Jamie Heaslip, Pat Lam, John Muldoon, Matt O'Connor and Rory Sheridan of Diageo as the new sponsor gets ready to kick off an exciting season.
Speaking during Connacht's training trip to Ballinrobe RFC, captain John Muldoon said: "It's great to see the jerseys and the people coming out to support us today. Long may it continue because we're not a Galway team, we're a Connacht team and that's what we want to push and that's why we come out on these days out."
Young hooker David Heffernan, who extended his current deal with Connacht in April, enjoyed a trip back to his native Mayo as Pat Lam's men held an open training session at Ballinrobe RFC earlier this week.
Rob Murphy caught up with Connacht head coach Pat Lam after their bonus point win at home to Benetton Treviso. The westerners have been in resurgent form of late, picking up three straight league victories and 14 points from a possible 15.