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Connacht Gear Up For New Season

Connacht Gear Up For New Season

Connacht will play their first pre-season friendly match this coming Friday when they travel to face Harlequins at the Stoop, with former Galwegians coach John Kingston taking charge of the home side.

With director of rugby Dean Richards resigning last week, head coach John Kingston will assume control for Harlequins’ pre-season clash with Connacht later this week.

Connacht’s pre-season training has gone ‘very well’, according to team captain John Muldoon, and Friday’s clash with the Guinness Premiership side will be the first of three pre-season games.

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Michael Bradley’s men will also travel to Gloucester on Saturday, August 22, and then they will finish off their pre-season campaign with a game against Rotherham Titans at the Sportsground the following Friday (August 28).

Speaking to Setanta Sports Ireland, Muldoon said that Connacht’s fitness coaches Greg Muller and Kevin Cradock have varied the workload and locations for pre-season work and that has been to the players’ benefit.

“Training’s been very good but tough going. I’m sure it’s the same with everyone else in the provinces and to be honest, we’re glad to see the games coming around the corner,” he said.

“We’ve a new fitness advisor in Greg Muller from New Zealand. He’s definitely left his mark, we’ve done some new not-too traditional methods of training. It’s been good.

“We’re doing a lot of strongman activities, wrestling, log-lifting and such. And a good bit of ball work too.”

The Connacht players have trained at a number of locations throughout the summer, including a visit to Tracht beach in Kinvara where the hilly roads and Burren landscape were also put to good use by the fitness coaches.

Connacht finished bottom of the Magners League last season and bowed out of the European Challenge Cup at the quarter-final stage, struggling for consistency at crucial stages in the campaign.

Number 8 Muldoon, who made his Ireland senior debut during the recent summer tour, is determined to get the westerners back playing at their best week in, week out.

if they can string together the sort of eye-catching results which saw them beat both Leinster and Munster last year at the Sportsground, then their goal of qualifying for the Heineken Cup could be within their grasp.

“Last year we got some good results, Leinster and Munster obviously stand out, but our away form was poor,” added Muldoon.

“The inconsistency that we showed last season, we’ve got to knock that out.

“We had a couple of results that we were not too proud of. We’ve just got to those inconsistencies out of our game and get some away results, because our home form was pretty good.”

With the new changes to the Heineken Cup, should an Irish team lift the trophy at the Stade de France next May, Connacht will gain an automatic pass to the 2010/11 tournament.

Although encouraged by this additional chance of joining Europe’s elite, Muldoon would rather that he and his team-mates become a Heineken Cup side on merit.

Beating the Ospreys at home in their Magners League opener on Friday, September 4 would be an ideal start for them.

“We want to finish above an Irish team in the Magners League and for our own selves, we want to be there in the Heineken Cup on merit and us achieving something.

“We want to get to the Heineken Cup and don’t want to be also-rans.

“The Ospreys is our goal right now, we’ll take it game by game and hopefully by Christmas we’ll be in the main pack (in the league).”