Former international scrum-half, Michael Bradley who is now in charge of Connacht believes that his squad can prosper in this season’s Celtic League and Cup competitions.
Michael Bradley has set his sights on Connacht’s lack of stars counting in their favour during the Celtic Rugby tournaments. With not a single international call being made on his squad during a season in which the Celtic League will keep running throughout the 2003 World Cup and 2004 Six Nations Championship, the former international scrum half and Irish Under-21 coach believes that will be a major bonus.
“We have identified two advantages we will have because of not being crammed with current internationals,” said the new Connacht coach.
“Firstly, we have had an uninterrupted nine-week pre-season and because of that we will go into the Celtic League with a settled squad.
“Secondly, we will, barring injuries, enjoy that situation throughout the tournament. If we can convert that it could be interesting times for Connacht and we could enjoy a rewarding Celtic League. If we are unable to convert that then we will need to have a rethink.
“Ours is a generally young and relatively inexperienced squad but I am very happy with the way the lads have trained and come together – plus they are mad keen.
“We also have experienced players behind the scrum like Eric Elwood, Darren Yapp, Wayne Munn, Matt Mostyn and captain Tim Allnutt while in the pack there will be the likes of hooker Brendan Jackman – in my opinion the outstanding AIL player last season when he was with Clontarf – and locks Andrew Farley from Swansea and Mike McCarthy from Wasps.
“If we can win the matches we should win and then win a few we perhaps should not win then it could be very interesting.”
Connacht kick-off their Celtic League campaign at home to Edinburgh Rugby on September 6th – and it will be at a massively improved Galway Sportsground.
On Tuesday, August 26th , Bradley’s men take on London Irish in a pre-season friendly that marks the official opening of Connacht’s new headquarters at the ground.
The 1.5m HQ, which has been developed with the help of Government and the IRFU, is part of a major redevelopment of the ground which also includes a magnificent new stand which has been developed by Bord na gCon. The Connacht Branch headquarters, on the opposite side to the stand, includes dressing rooms, a gym, medical room, as well as the administrative offices for the professional and development sides of the game in the West.
Tuesday’s game between Connacht and the Zurich Premiership side promises to be a hugely entertaining encounter with the action on the field being supplemented by a number of entertainments throughout the ground.
Both Connacht and London Irish will field full-strength teams with Connacht also meeting Munster three days later at the same venue, before opening their Celtic League campaign with that clash against Edinburgh Rugby.