Robbie Henshaw set to to return for Connacht in Pro12 clash with Leinster

Ireland centre likely to be rested for Challenge Cup match against Bayonne

Robbie Henshaw: still recuperating from the hip pointer strain he picked up during Ireland’s autumn series. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Robbie Henshaw: still recuperating from the hip pointer strain he picked up during Ireland’s autumn series. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

 
Connacht

on December 19th to reintroduce centre Robbie Henshaw to the side, as he offered a broad hint following Tuesday’s training session that he would rest some regular starters for Saturday’s European Challenge Cup match against Bayonne.

Henshaw is still recuperating from the hip pointer strain he picked up during Ireland’s autumn series and will not be rushed back into service for his club. Managing a smaller squad through what has been a hugely promising Pro 12 campaign is crucial to Lam’s thinking as he tries to steer Connacht through a demanding Christmas schedule.

“With Robbie, we sat down and looked and he obviously missed his break and we are trying to get him completely physically right and we are looking at him for the Leinster game. There is no point in him having niggles so we just want to get him completely right,” he said.

Lock Quinn Roux went through modified training on Tuesday afternoon despite a mild ankle strain and won’t feature on Saturday while scrum half Ian Porter is still recovering from a foot strain he picked up against Zebre.

With John Cooney unavailable for European competition because of registration, Lam will call Monivea and Connacht academy’s Caolin Blade up as support for Kieran Marmion.

Significant step

Galway

“One of the things we note at training is that when guys don’t execute right, it is not the end of the world. So on the back of that, it is about ‘keep your heads up and move on to the next thing’. One of the pleasing thing is that we missed our kick-off, gave away a penalty, a high ball and next thing it is 8-0. But instead of panicking, they just made a couple of errors and just got back to the job at hand.

The influence of Mils Muliaina into Connacht’s exciting back division has been achieved flawlessly and Lam said that the New Zealander is looking forward to reacquainting himself with former All-Blacks winger Joe Rokocoko when Bayonne visit.

The arc of Muliaina’s season means that he is keen for more minutes and his presence in recent games has added to the buzz around the Sportsground. For Lam, the trick against Bayonne lies in achieving balance between maintaining momentum and form while ensuring that his most experienced players are rested and ready for the trinity of derby games against the Irish clubs.

Main competition

“In Europe you can only register so many players. The reason we have got to where we are is the whole squad. Everybody has done their bit. And whoever we put in the jersey has a responsibility to do their part for our system and for Connacht. We still have the same goal: we do want to protect the Sportsground and get into the play-offs.”

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