Keith Wood addresses Connacht contrast since last season's glory

Former Ireland captain on the province almost 12 months on from winning the Pro 12

BY Raf Diallo 20:48 Wednesday 3 May 2017, 20:48 3 May 2017

A view of the team huddle ©INPHO/Bryan Keane

Keith Wood has picked out the opposition approach and a need to vary their game as some of the issues Connacht can look to work on after the 2016-17 campaign.

The province famously enjoyed a fairytale maiden Guinness Pro 12 triumph last season but have not hit those same heights this season.

Speaking to Off The Ball, former Ireland captain Wood reflected on the differences over the past 12 months.

"I look at Connacht this year and think that they did phenomenally well last year, that it was going to be incredibly hard to back it up," he said.

"They lost three or four players that moved out of the club. They have definitely missed Robbie Henshaw but I also think the other teams playing against them don't rush up quite as much as they were when they were looping around the background. They understand how Connacht are trying to play and I would have felt that this year for the add-on that was needed for Connacht is the ability to put boot to ball an odd time. Not all the time but to have a bit of a blend with it because if you know you're going to run it that means the other players if they're fit enough and have a decent defence are able to block that down unless it's executed perfectly and this year it hasn't because of the loss of some of the players to be honest and I think they've struggled with it."

Presently Connacht are eighth in the Pro 12 table, five points below Cardiff Blues ahead of the final round of regular season games and The Irish Times' Gerry Thornley explained how European Rugby Champions Cup playoff permutations would play out. 

"They are going to be away, almost certainly to the English seventh ranked team which could be Gloucester depending partly how they get on in the Challenge Cup, or it could be Newcastle or Harlequins. That's an away game and bizarrely, they are almost better off finishing below Cardiff. Because if they win their semi final, the final of the playoff series would be in the Sportsground. So, in other words, despite finishing below Cardiff, they could beat Cardiff in the final and it would be in the Sportsground. They're almost better off finishing eighth because they have that carrot."   

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