Elwood aiming to finish on a high
‘We still have a hell of a lot to play for’ says outgoing Connacht coach
Were there a direct qualification process for next season’s Heineken Cup based on final standings in the RaboDirect Pro12 of, say, the top eight advancing automatically, Connacht would be in an intriguing end-of-season tussle with their rivals around them.
As it is, they are again rooting for their provincial rivals, Leinster and Munster, to win either the Amlin Challenge Cup or the Heineken Cup, and thereby earn Ireland a fourth entry in next season’s tournament.
Nevertheless, matching or eclipsing last season’s high of an eighth-placed finish is needed and to that end they take on Edinburgh, behind them on points difference in ninth place, with Ulster at home, the rearranged game in Treviso and a last day visit of leaders Ulster to come.
“We still have a hell of a lot to play for in those four games,” said Eric Elwood. “There is a lot of things still in our control. We are still looking for that improvement and that betterment year on year and that’s very much a target. It starts this weekend now with Edinburgh.”
Elwood has had a few conversations with his successor, Pat Lam, whose presence for the remainder of the season is a reconnaissance mission and opportunity to have his family settled in.
Forwards coach Dan McFarland, who is staying on, has also met Lam. “He is a gentleman. He has a lovely family. His priority is to get settled. From his point of view he wants to watch and settle in.”
Denis Buckley has joined a lengthy injury list with a grade media medial ligament tear which will sideline him for the rest of the season. Willie Faloon (ankle ligaments) will see a specialist next Monday.
Eoghan Grace is sidelined for the rest of the season after an operation on his thumb last week. Hooker Jason Harris-Wright sustained a torn calf muscle against Munster and may miss a couple of games. Dave McSharry’s groin operation rules him out for the season’s end.