IT is the competitive spirit that burns brightest in players who make their livelihood from rugby. There is nothing but pride at stake here.
Connacht are out of the Heineken Cup and languishing in the lower reaches of the PRO12 League. They were out of contention by the turn of the year.
In these circumstances, who could blame Mike McCarthy for wanting to further his career? He wants to become an automatic first choice second row for Ireland.
It is a simple fact of life that players want to win trophies and play at the highest level. Connacht are making a worthy effort to build from within with Irish squad members Robbie Henshaw and Dubliner Dave McSharry.
CONNACHT v ZEBRE
TONIGHT, SKY SPORTS 2, KO 8.0
Connacht: R Hensahw; T O'Halloran, E Griffin, D McSharry, F Vainikolo; D Parks, K Marmion; B Wilkinson, J Harris-Wright, N White (capt), M Swift, M McCarthy, M Kearney, J O'Connor, A Browne.
Zebre: T Tebaldi; G Venditi, R Quartaroli, M Pratichetti, R Trevisan; D Halangahu, A Chillon; S Perugini, D Giazzon, L Redolfini, M van Vuren, J Sole, E Caffini, M Bergamasco (capt), F Ferrarini.