As the Irish Province face into a big month of games both in the PRO12 and Heineken Cup competitions, head coach Eric Elwood looks ahead to the first game of 2013 against NG Dragons at The Sportsground, Galway, on Saturday.
“This game against Dragons is a vitally important one for the club. We’re side by side at the bottom of the table so this is a huge game for both teams. Obviously, with us at home, the pressure is on us to win it.
“The key thing is that we learn from the mistakes of the last two derby matches that we’ve had. And the main focus for us this weekend is about getting everything right ourselves to secure the win.”
Elwood’s squad has been boosted with the recent return to fitness of centres Mata Fifita and Kyle Tonetti. Both will play with their respective clubs this weekend -Bucanneers RFC and Lansdowne RFC - and are expected to be available for selection as the province looks to the Heineken Cup competition next week.
Out half Miah Nikora is also set to return either this week or next after suffering a minor groin injury in the lead up to the game against Munster.
Winger Fetu’u Vainikolo missed out on the last round of RaboDirect PRO12 action due to injury but is set to return to the fray this week.
There were a few knocks picked up during Saturday’s defeat to Leinster. Winger Matt Healy, who made his debut in Dublin, suffered a hand fracture and is expected to be out of action for three to four weeks.
Forward Johnny O’Connor also picked up an injury and his involvement this weekend is in doubt.
While Connacht achieved a double win over the men from Gwent last season, they were defeated 14-3 by the Dragons back in November.