Belfast Telegraph

Connacht to prioritise brawn over brains: Lam

By David Kelly

Connacht have lost direction in more ways than one during this festive period.

Coach Pat Lam was complaining about their trek to Belfast; apparently it took them three and a half hours to make the journey from Galway to Shannon Airport.

Somebody should have got them a Sat-Nav for Christmas; they've a shorter trip today but no less difficult an assignment against a confident Munster side.

Lam's men won't need any technological wizardry to establish the easiest route to success this evening.

For Connacht to avoid beginning the new year like they ended the old one - that all too familiar feeling of losing to a fellow Irish province - Lam has placed his faith in brawn, rather than brain.

Leinster pitched up in Limerick last week with a potentially devastating back-line but somehow forgot the primary lesson of their sport; without the ability to retain the ball with forward momentum for any sustained length of time, or the facility to win it back, they were demolished.

Munster, who will unload an even bigger battalion than that which subdued Leinster so handsomely, will simply attempt to replicate their bruising approach again.

Forewarned is forearmed, asserts Lam.

"I've always said that it is so important that we are comfortable adapting our style of play to suit the different conditions and opposition over a long season," he says.

"We know we are going to face a very direct and physical Munster side with an excellent kicking game.

"They are undefeated in the interpro games, going back-to-back against Leinster and beating Ulster.

"Anthony Foley is doing a terrific job in in his first season as head coach and in their performances I have seen the uncompromising, tough and direct style that he was renowned for when I played against him.

"The changes to our own team reflect the game plan we have devised to try and combat the big challenge ahead.

"Having the physicality of Craig Ronaldson, Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki in the front line will be key to our defence tomorrow.

"And the selection of the back three is directly linked to the quality of Munster's aerial threat and the tough weather conditions expected."

Indeed, with the weather forecast screaming furious vengeance to greet the first day of 2015, this may not be pretty but then, neither side necessarily want pretty.

Especially the home outfit, who need a win badly as their season threatens to list after unseasonal reversals against their other two Irish rivals.

Belfast Telegraph

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