Connacht prepare for another French challenge

Connacht Rugby's preparations for the start of the Guinness Pro 12 season continue with a five-day training camp in France.

Pat Lam has selected a 30-man squad for the camp, including Ireland squad member Kieran Marmion, who has been temporarily released by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. The trip to the south of France will culminate in another French challenge, against Castres, tomorrow evening.

Missing from the camp are the injured, wing Niyi Adeolokun (left knee bruising ), locks Quinn Roux and Aly Muldowney (ankle surgery recovery ), hooker Jason Harris-Wright, prop Ronan Loughney (hip surgery ), and Jake Heenan (shoulder repair recovery ), in addition to scrumhalf Caolin Blade, centre Conor Finn, Ireland international Robbie Henshaw, Nathan White, Conor McKeon, and George Naoupu.

After last weekend's opening pre-season joust with Bernard Jackmen's Grenoble, which the French side won convincingly by 52-19, Lam is expected to mix up his squad ahead of tomorrow evening's clash with Castres.  While the result is unimportant in Connacht's season, Lam will want to see how his youngsters adhere to team structures, and cope with the expected Castres challenge.

Lam says the trip is also an opportunity to train in a new environment.

"To get away as a squad and train in a new environment in the lead up to a competitive game is a great opportunity and a very important phase in our pre-season preparations," he says.

"A lot of young players earned game time last week against Grenoble and we learnt a lot about where we are at. With more players coming back in, it's great to be able to follow up straight away with what will be an even tougher task away from home against Castres.

"We want to give everyone some game time and try out different combinations ahead of the Munster game and then the season kick-off in three weeks' time."

This is the second of Connacht's pre-season fixtures which conclude on Friday week (August 21 ) against Munster in Thomond Park (7.45pm ). It is hoped Adeolokun, Muldowney and Roux will be fit for the Munster game ahead of the opening Pro 12 fixture against the Newport Gwent Dragons at the Sportsground on Friday September 4.

Connacht Rugby squad in France: Backs, Tiernan O'Halloran, Darragh Leader, Fionn Carr, Matt Healy, Danie Poolman, Bundee Aki, Shane O'Leary, Dave McSharry, Rory Parata, Api Pewharangi, Jack Carty, Craig Ronaldson, Kieran Marmion, John Cooney. Forwards, Denis Buckley, Finlay Bealham, Tom McCartney, Dave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, JP Cooney, Rodney Ah You, Andrew Browne, Danny Qualter, Ben Marshall, Ultan Dillane, Eoghan Masterson, John Muldoon, Eoin McKeon, Nepia Fox-Matamua, James Connolly.


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