Connacht yet to decide if Bundee Aki will face Leinster
Province a little ‘skinny’ in midfield as Eoin Griffin and Peter Robb out with injuries
Connacht’s Bundee Aki during training on Tuesday ahead of his side’s clash with Leinster. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
The Ireland centre returned to Galway on Monday after his wedding in New Zealand, and was immediately back training yesterday at the Sportsground.
“Bundee is very keen to play as he always is,” says Friend. “He just wants to be out there playing, but it’s how we manage that and the squad. We’ll make a decision later in the week whether he will be involved.”
Connacht are a little “skinny” in midfield with Eoin Griffin having torn a calf muscle and Peter Robb suffering a knee injury, ruling both out till January, but Connacht have signed Leinster centre Tom Daly on loan until the end of the season.
He is being integrated into the squad this week, but will not be available for selection until next week. As a result Friend can also look to Kyle Godwin, Tom Farrell – back after a knee knock – youngster Kieran Joyce, and outhalf David Horwitz, who impressed in the centre last weekend. In the pack Sean O’Brien and Gavin Thornbury are going through fitness protocols this week after taking knocks in their French victory.
“There are some restrictions [on Ireland players] over the next three weeks, it is just how they play out. We have thoughts on how to select the next three games, not every position, of course, but certainly our Irish players, so it depends on how we get through this week.
“These three games in the Pro14 can make or break you. In our pool we have Munster sitting ahead of us, Leinster and Ulster are battling out top position into third position in their pool, so we are all pushing for spots.
“Leinster have proved this year that their strong side is extremely strong, looks very similar to an Irish side, but if those fellas are resting, they have another crop that can turn a Dragons side away from home by 50 points. They have amazing depth, and are obviously very well coached and well conditioned, so we know whoever turns up are going to be good footballers. They will know the systems, and do everything they can to make the opportunity they get an impressive one for their coaches.”