Belfast Telegraph

Friend urges Connacht to keep it loose

Good plan: Andy Friend wants to avoid an arm wrestle
Good plan: Andy Friend wants to avoid an arm wrestle

By Cian Tracey

As Andy Friend put it last Friday, Montpellier will have watched the manner in which Leinster dominated Connacht up front and felt that was the blueprint to beat his side in this Sunday's Champions Cup opener.

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That kind of physical approach is what Montpellier are all about and with a bruising pack set to arrive at the Sportsground, Connacht will have their hands full.

Friend's options are depleted in the second-row and he is also sweating over a tighthead, which is music to the French side's ears.

Montpellier haven't yet ignited this season but with Aaron Cruden pulling the strings, they are capable of turning it on.

They had boosted their pack with the addition of France skipper Guilhem Guirado but the hooker ruptured his bicep on his debut last weekend and is now facing a lengthy spell out.

With a smattering of French, Georgian and South African internationals to call upon, Montpellier should be able to cope with Guirado's absence.

"Montpellier are going to be big and physical, so we need to get a game plan that is going to try to avoid an arm wrestle," Friend warned.

"They are an enormous pack with a lot of firepower there, and they will want to have an arm wrestle, especially after seeing that game (defeat to Leinster).

"If it gets into an arm wrestle, we will have our work cut out.

"If we can move them around and play a more open brand and get them moving, it will probably be our best chance."

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