Forwards coach Duffy believes Challenge Cup helping to save Connacht’s season

Connacht's back row Jarrad Butler who is delighted to be back in the squad after being sidelined by injury.
Connacht's back row Jarrad Butler who is delighted to be back in the squad after being sidelined by injury.

IT’S with a twinkle in his eye that forwards coach Jimmy Duffy notes that “Europe has provided the spark” when most needed in Connacht’s season. The Westerners will be hoping this can again be the case when they travel to face Worcester in their Challenge Cup tie at Sixways Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Connacht have been showing good form of late – despite results not going their way against Leinster and Munster in their last two PRO14 outings – but they now require some validation for their hard graft and work and a return to Challenge Cup action may just offer that for the pool leaders.

While Connacht may be smarting, in particular, from their heavy defeat to Munster, Worcester Warriors too enter Saturday’s clash in similar fashion after suffering a 46-25 home defeat to Bath in the Aviva Premiership. One imagines the English side will be eager to atone for that in front of their own supporters this Saturday.

This is not lost on Duffy who highlights, when they are on form, Worcester are formidable opposition. “We have just completed an eight-game analysis of them going back a number of rounds and what we are seeing is that of a team when on form are very dangerous and who have got some really dangerous threats.

“They have got some really good attacking back players and then, up front, they are massively physical. They have got very strong tight-head options, good loose-head options, and they are also good in the back row where, obviously, they have a number of internationals sprinkled in there.

“So, look, they are a formidable opponent and one that we really have to be on mark for. We are under no illusions. At home at the Sixways, it is going to be a really tough battle. I think they will produce their strongest team available and really put it up to us,” he remarks.

For this one, James Cannon is a fresh injury concern for Kieran Keane’s outfit after sustaining a shoulder injury against Munster. Classed as extremely doubtful, a decision on where he is at will be taken later in the week.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.