Belfast Telegraph

Lam hopes Ili can add vital spark

By Cian Tracey

Connacht coach Pat Lam is hoping that his latest recruit from Auckland Rugby can have the same impact as Jake Heenan and Nepia Fox-Matamua.

Stacey Ili linked up with his new team-mates for the first time on Monday and Lam will hope his arrival can revitalise his side.

Defeats to Glasgow and Ospreys were almost added to with a third loss in Italy last weekend before a thunderstorm caused their clash with Zebre to be abandoned with the home team in control at the interval.

Ili is unlikely to feature this weekend against Scarlets, but Lam thinks he will provide invaluable competition for Connacht as they continue to look for their first PRO12 win of the season and with Champions Cup rugby beginning next month.

"It's very similar to Jake and Nepia, both of them never got contracts. We have seen the quality of both of those players when they got an opportunity to go full-time," said Lam.

"I wouldn't have brought Stacey in if I didn't think he could slot in.

"The biggest thing with him is that he has got the ability and skills that we are looking for. It's going to come down to Stacey to see how long it is before he plays."

Meanwhile, Heenan and Quinn Roux are both available for selection after injury ahead of this weekend's crunch clash away to Scarlets.

Flanker Heenan (24) picked up a gruesome hand injury in a defeat at Montpellier on August 11. Second-row Roux (25) sustained a hip injury in pre-season and both players missed out on the opening PRO12 games.

But tighthead prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy is set to miss a minimum of six weeks after he picked up an arm injury in training last week.

Belfast Telegraph

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