Butler planning another terrific trip to Kingspan
A dip in the sea at Blackrock in Salthill was as much as Connacht skipper Jarrad Butler was planning for Christmas, but even that was going by the wayside after he missed the clash against Munster with a bout of illness.
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This is his third Christmas in Galway but with a string of Irish derbies to contend with, the festive celebrations don't get a look-in, and Butler is prepared to accept that as part and parcel of the life of a professional player.
Of course, Christmas weather back in New Zealand, where he lived until he was 13, and on the Gold Coast, where he represented Australia at schools and Under-20 levels, is very different to what comes in off the Atlantic.
"You don't really get a chance to celebrate Christmas that much, not with games right around it, but we enjoy this time of year. We know these games mean a lot to the fans and also to players who are playing against guys they grew up with or are competing with for the national spots," he said.
Connacht have overcome many barriers in recent seasons, and beating Ulster 22-15 - their first win in Belfast since 1960 - in October 2018 was sweet. They will aim to repeat the dose at Kingspan Stadium tomorrow.
"It was awesome. It was so much fun to go up there and perform well. Ulster have been flying at the moment and are playing really good footy," he said.
"They have been finding ways to win. They are winning really strong games away and at home. It is going to be a massive test.
"We are the last ones to have beaten them at home. Dan McFarland will remind them of that. That's fine by us, I am looking forward to that one. There is a huge opportunity. We will try and put out a big performance."