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Connacht are hitting their best, says Andy Friend

Andy Friend

Connacht head coach Andy Friend has said the team are hitting their stride ahead of the PRO14 quarter-final away at Ulster.

The two Irish provinces will meet at the Kingspan Stadium on Saturday, and Friend believes his team are close to the peak of their form.

“I reckon the players are ready, and that is the most exciting thing, but I’ve said a few times, I still don’t think we have played our best rugby yet,” Friend commented.

“In the month of April we’ve had 30 players who have hit personal bests, whether it’s on speed, in the gym, or body composition, and of those 30 players, we have had 53 personal bests.

“The most exciting thing is the 23 selected will go out there with nothing to lose and a lot to gain, so I’m excited by that.”

The victor of Saturday’s quarter-final will go on to meet Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun.

Friend succeeded Kieran Keane as Connacht head coach in 2018 and has gone on to re-establish the province as team capable of reaching the knockout stages of domestic and European competitions.

Building on from the work of Pat Lam, who delivered a maiden Celtic League title in 2015-16, Friend shared his belief that Connacht are on the verge of their strongest performance of the season.

“We have played some really good rugby and showed that against Treviso – when we needed to win, we did. Against Ospreys we needed to deliver, we did; and Cardiff, we did. So we played some really good rugby, but on reflection we could have been better.”

The team’s physios are fortunate to be admiring the spring weather more so than spending time cooped up in the medical room tending to players.

Connacht have 46 first-team players available for selection, with only international lock Quinn Roux (virus) and former Brumbies centre Kyle Godwin out.

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