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Thursday 8 December 2016

Coach Lam on the rack over mounting injury crisis

Connacht's Pat Lam (Sportsfile)
Connacht's Pat Lam (Sportsfile)

Connacht will have to dig even deeper than last week to make it a quickfire double over Newcastle Falcons in Pool 1 of The Challenge Cup.

They have been just as convincing and consistent in Europe as they have been in the PRO12 League.

At present, the westerners hold a seven-point lead over Newcastle and French club Brive after completing three victories from the first three rounds.

"If we get a win this weekend away from home it sets us up nicely," said coach Pat Lam.

"We can put it away and get back to the Pro 12 in a strong position, where a defeat is a door for the other team."

It is a testament of biblical proportions that Lam has managed all of this while knee deep in an unprecedented injury crisis. It is difficult to know how much energy Connacht have left in the legs for this one.

Plea

In the meantime, Lam's plea for a bending of the rules to the governing body fell on unsympathetic ears.

Certainly, the spirit of the game can be called into question when Lam could be forced into going into battle with just 21 players available from those registered for The Challenge Cup. The signature of Tiernan O'Halloran, developing into a full-back, on a two-year contract extension comes as a boost given his sublime form this season as something of a game-changer.

However, the latest indication of Robbie Henshaw's leaving of Connacht came with the confirmation that Eoin Griffin will return from his hiatus at London Irish at the end of this season.

This will do little to calm the chaos that could follow their star man's departure to the east.

The mere fact Henshaw has not been able to nail his colours to the mast, so to speak, supports the strong speculation the prototypical, modern day back will join Leinster, the province of his birth, if not his rugby pedigree.

Connacht v Newcastle Falcons, Kingston Park, Sunday (KO 3.00pm)

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