The Connacht squad departed Ireland early this morning for a five-day training camp in the south of France. Pat Lam’s men will also take part in the Challenge Vaquerin in Saint-Affrique with a game against Top 14 side Montpellier on Thursday (kick-off 8pm local time).
CONNACHT Training Camp Squad – Backs (18): Cormac Brennan, Cian Kelleher, Tiernan O’Halloran, Niyi Adeolokun, Matt Healy, Ed O’Keeffe, Danie Poolman, Josh Rowland, Bundee Aki, Eoin Griffin, Rory Parata, Peter Robb, Jack Carty, Shane O’Leary, Caolin Blade, Kieran Marmion, Conor McKeon, Conor Lowndes.
Forwards (21): Dave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, Tom McCartney, Finlay Bealham, Denis Buckley, Conor Carey, JP Cooney, Ronan Loughney, Saba Meunargia, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Ivan Soroka *, JP Cooney, Sean O’Brien, Ultan Dillane, Daniel Qualter, Cian Romaine, Lewis Stevenson, Nepia Fox-Matamua, Jake Heenan, Eoin McKeon, John Muldoon.
There are six Academy players included in the traveling squad as well as new recruits Eoin Griffin, Cian Kelleher, Conor Carey, Dominic Robertson-McCoy, Josh Rowland and Lewis Stevenson.
* Young prop Ivan Soroka, who helped Clontarf win the Ulster Bank League title last season, has been training with the Connacht squad on a trial basis since the beginning of the pre-season period.
Speaking about the week ahead and the game against Montpellier, the province’s head coach Pat Lam said: “This is the fourth year in a row that we will travel to France and it has become a very important phase in our pre-season preparations. After six weeks of training together in Galway, most of the squad will now be together in France for five days with no interruptions.
“With new players arriving and those training with us from the Academy, this week is hugely beneficial in terms of strengthening relationships on and off the field.
“Against Montpellier, who will be a good bit ahead of us in terms of their pre-season preparations, we have a chance to test out some new systems as well as take stock of where we are ourselves. It’s a good time to blood our new players and try out different combinations ahead of round 1 of the GUINNESS PRO12 against Glasgow in just over three weeks’ time.
“The international players traveling with us won’t play on Thursday night but the week is crucial for them to continue their reintegration to pre-season and prepare as best they can with the squad. I’m pleased with the preparation and hard work put in to date and looking forward to a good week from everyone in France.”