Ireland internationals Paul Boyle, Chris Farrell, Garry Ringrose and Kieran Treadwell represented the four provinces at today’s Irish launch of the United Rugby Championship.
The inaugural URC gets underway next week, with Ulster, reigning PRO14 champions Leinster and Munster all kicking off their campaigns on home soil.
For Connacht, who travel to Cardiff in the opening round, back rower Boyle said: “We’re looking to play a very fast tempo, and the biggest change we made this year in pre-season was that very little of the conditioning was get-on-the-line-and-run kind of work.
“It was all with the ball. Lots of conditioning games, lots of 15-on-15 and we’re well used to throwing the ball around at this stage. Our full focus is against Cardiff – we’re looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Leinster star Ringrose commented: “We just can’t wait to have crowds back. Certainly for Leinster it’s a massive part of our game, feeding off the energy of the crowd.
“We had a little taste of that with the pre-season match against Harlequins, and it was just a really great buzz.”
Fellow centre Farrell is looking forward to donning Munster red again, saying: “Last season we were really competitive, got to the final and lost to Leinster, and lost to (eventual winners) Toulouse in the Heineken Champions Cup.
“So we’re only a step away from clicking and really competing. Simon Zebo has brought a real freshness to the group. There’s also a lot of young players hungry, competitive, and it’s a great blend, I think.”
Ulster second row Treadwell acknowledged: “Glasgow will be a great game to start with. We had a bit of a crowd against Saracens (in pre-season), but it’s a massive lift for all the players and everyone there to get that support and finally give something back to the fans as well.
“The new trial laws are exciting for me, personally, because I like to get my hands on the ball and I like playing an exciting style.
“The speed of the game will increase, especially with the 50:22 rule. So the onus is on getting a lot of speed into the game.”