Connacht will be without a number of key players, including captain Gavin Duffy, for the visit of Heineken Cup champions Leinster to the Sportsground on Friday night.
Injuries have blighted the start of Connacht’s RaboDirect PRO12 campaign, robbing them of the services of new signings Dan Parks (calf) and Danie Poolman (hamstring) in particular.
Eric Elwood is hopeful of Parks making his debut ‘soon rather than later’. He is being lined up for the interprovincial derby against Leinster, but skipper Gavin Duffy, who suffered a hamstring strain in Glasgow last Friday, will miss out.
Speaking on Monday, Elwood said: “We had 19 guys who didn’t train today. A lot of the young lads have done well but we need a break.
“If we can get some of the senior boys back, it would hopefully just lift us a little bit and give us a bit of confidence going into the next month because after Leinster we have Ulster (away) followed by two European games (against Zebre and Harlequins).”
Mark McCrea and Matthew Jarvis, two of Connacht’s scorers against Glasgow, have picked up knocks and have joined the likes of John Muldoon, Frank Murphy and Ethienne Reynecke on the injury list.
Scrum half Murphy is facing a six to eight-month lay-off after sustaining cruciate knee ligament damage. With Paul O’Donohue also currently nursing a hamstring injury, the westerners have had to rely on young scrum halves Kieran Marmion and Dave Moore for the opening run of matches.
They are the sort of players that Elwood hopes will shine in the red hot atmosphere of a big derby game at the Sportsground.
“We always look forward to derby matches. Every player wants to play in these big games especially with the keen provincial rivalry,“ commented the former Ireland out-half.
“As a coach, I would prefer to have a larger squad to choose from but this is also a great opportunity to have a look at the younger players in our squad.”
Tickets for the Connacht v Leinster showdown in Galway are on sale here.