Connacht's pre-season regime got underway this morning in balmy conditions in Galway, with a number of new signings taking part in the fitness tests.
Squad newcomers Shane O'Leary, Ian Porter and Niyi Adeolokun reported to the Sportsground where they collected some new BLK kit, met their new team-mates, and underwent a comprehensive day of testing with Connacht's medical and conditioning teams.
A number of players away on international duty with different representative squads will join up with their provincial team-mates in July, while New Zealanders Mils Muliaina, Bundee Aki and Tom McCartney are expected to arrive at different stages starting in late August.
The core group of players present today were required to report for duty at 7.30am to undergo a thorough examination consisting of strength and power testing, body composition, physiotherapy screening and fitness assessments.
The first of the two-day testing concluded with the annual 1.2km run at the Dangan track in NUI Galway where specific targets are set out for each player. Senior fitness coach Jim Molony was satisfied that all the players conquered and even surpassed their individual target times.
On Friday the players will be put through their paces again with more power and strength testing in the morning followed by a Yo-Yo test in the afternoon.
Paddy Jackson's boot made the difference for Ulster at Kingspan Stadium as he dispatched a 77th minute penalty to see off a combative Dragons side and nudge the province to the top of the GUINNESS PRO12.
Ulster are back at Kingspan Stadium for their rescheduled GUINNESS PRO12 date with the Dragons. And with a run of home games to come, Les Kiss' men know how important this fixture could be in terms of building momentum through the Six Nations period.
In an in-depth interview IRFU Performance Director speaks about Ireland's Rugby World Cup review and the key learnings, the structure of the professional game, player contracts and movement and the challenges and opportunities for Irish Rugby.
After releasing details of the Leinster Academy panel for 2015/16, Academy manager and former Ireland international Girvan Dempsey spoke of his excitement about the new emerging talent and the players who are graduating to the professional ranks.
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.