CONNACHT RUGBY PLAYERS will dig deep this and every weekend to repay head coach Eric Elwood for his selfless efforts with a big performance, says John Muldoon.
Earlir this month, Elwood announced he would be stepping away from his role as head coach of the province at the end of this season.
The decision will bring to an end much more than an eight year coaching association, with Elwood having played his entire career with the western province.
“Obviously there was a bit of shock when the news broke.” Connacht flanker John Muldoon told Newstalk’s Off The Ball this evening, “but anybody that knows Eric, knows he gives his heart and soul.
“Anyone who watched The West’s Awake last week (will know), that showed what king of man he is.”
Muldoon added: “He’s been the face of Connacht Rugby for a long time. He gives every ounce inside him towards Connacht Rugby and that’s probably been to the detriment of Eric. I don’t think he’ll mind me saying he gives everything and, sometimes, it’s too much.
“We, as players, have seen that over the last couple of years and we do want to send him off on a high. He’s been around Connacht for a long, long time and to send him off on a high would be bring us great pleasure.”
The next opportunity for Muldoon and co. to gain that ‘pleasure’ is this Saturday’s Heineken Cup meeting with Harlequins – a fixture which inevitably conjures up memories of last season’s dogged 9-8 win over the side who have since gone on to claim England’s Premiership title.
“Yeah, we’re looking forward to the game. It’s a big, big challenge.” Muldoon says before admitting that Harlequins will be a much more difficult side to ambush this time around.
“Conor O’Shea will be coming over here and the biggest word they’ll be using is ‘revenge’. Because after beating Toulouse (last year) they were coming over here looking for a party and we kind of ruined it.”
The blind-side highlighted the absence of fly-half Nick Evans as a possible weakness for the visitors, but added: “Conor O’Shea is a very shrewd man and I’m sure he’ll have a few plans up his sleeve. As will John Kingston, formerly Galwegians coach. He’s coming back to a familiar ground aswell.”
‘It was some day’
After doubling their Heineken Cup win tally at the first attempt in their second Heineken Cup season, Muldooon hopes to maintain some momentum with a fierce display this weekend. A display for which tickets can still be easily obtained.
“I believe there’s 7,500 tickets sold. It’s not a sell-out yet, there’s still a few tickets available. But it should make for a great atmosphere.
“We had 9,000 (in attendance) against Toulouse last year – bear in mind I’ve played in front of 200 to 300 people in the Sportground, so that was some day. We’re hoping that we’ll have something similar this weekend.”