Early this morning, a 30-man Connacht squad set off for a five-day training camp in the south of France that will conclude with a game against Top 14 side Castres Olympique in Saint-Affrique this Friday night (kick-off 8pm local time).
Pat Lam’s men took part in the Challenge Vaquerin in Lacaune in August 2013, playing Castres in a close game that finished 43-31 in favour of the then French champions. The Connacht starting line-up for Friday’s rematch will be announced on Thursday.
Scrum half Kieran Marmion has been temporarily released from the Ireland training camp this week in order to amass some game-time with the province.
Speaking about the camp in France, head coach Lam said: “To get away as a squad and train in a new environment in the lead up to a competitive game is a great opportunity and a very important phase in our pre-season preparations.
“A lot of young players earned game-time last week against Grenoble and we learnt a lot about where we’re at. With more players coming back in, it’s great to be able to follow up straight away with what will be an even tougher task away from home against Castres.
“After six weeks of training together in Galway, we’re looking forward to getting away with little interruption. We expect another tough encounter against Castres as we continue to build our game and improve on the lessons from last week. We want to give everyone some game-time and try out different combinations ahead of the Munster game and then the season kick-off in three weeks’ time.”
Connacht begin their 2015/16 GUINNESS PRO12 campaign with a home game against the Newport Gwent Dragons on Friday, September 4 at 7.30pm. To secure your place at the Sportsground for all 14 home games of the westerners’ season, make sure to get your Season Ticket. Go to www.connachtrugby.ie for more information on all the Season Ticket benefits for the new season.
CONNACHT Squad (France Training Camp) – Backs (14): Tiernan O’Halloran, Darragh Leader, Fionn Carr, Matt Healy, Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki, Shane O’Leary, Dave McSharry, Rory Parata, Api Pewharangi, Jack Carty, Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion, John Cooney.
Forwards (16): Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Tom McCartney, Dave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Andrew Browne, Daniel Qualter, Ben Marshall, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, John Muldoon, Eoin McKeon, Nepia Fox-Matamua, James Connolly.