Connacht coach Michael Bradley is confident that Connacht can continue their excellent record in France when they take on Brive in Friday’s European Challenge Cup pool opener at Parc Municipal des Sports (kick-off 7.30pm local time).
Brive will become the 14th French team Connacht have played in the European Challenge Cup and Bradley wants his side to repeat the wins they chalked up in the likes of Pau, Beziers, Montpellier, Narbonne and Grenoble in recent seasons.
But the former Ireland scrum half, who is expecting a tough challenge from the former Heineken Cup champions, warned: “Brive are a big solid side and the’ve a couple of players available in their back-line who represented Tonga and Fiji at the World Cup.
“It’s going to be a physical challenge as all the French 14 club sides are. That’ll be our first hurdle and if we can match that we’ve the systems in place to create opportunities and it’s up to us to convert them after that.”
Connacht will entertain Spanish side Cetransa El Salvador at the Sportsground on Friday week, before facing back to back games with Newcastle Falcons in December, but Bradley does not want his charges to look beyond this Friday’s encounter with Brive.
“It is vital in a pool situation to concentrate on the next game and not get distracted about what else is happening or other permutations. That means for us it is Brive away next Friday, we will worry about El Salvador after that and then the back-to-back games against Newcastle.”
Bradley will no doubt be picking the brains of his new out-half Tim Donnelly this week – the Australian lined out for Brive in last season’s Challenge Cup – but the westerners will also be hoping to use their experience of playing in France to good effect.
“We know at this stage what to expect from a French team. They will be under pressure not to lose at home and that will give an edge to the game. But our lads know, too, what is required out there, the discipline needed to carve out a result.”