Despite a growing injury crisis, Connacht can still reach the play-offs of the Champions Cup, says coach Pat Lam.
Connacht meet Zebre in Galway on Saturday and then visit Top14 giants Toulouse the following Sunday, but Lam will have to do without the services of several first-choice players over the next couple of weeks.
The Irish outfit indeed have a good opportunity of making the last eight as they are level with Wasps and Toulouse on 13 points in Pool 2, but they have lost fly-half Jack Carty and flanker Jake Heenan to injury which makes the task ahead that much tougher.
“We’re excited by the opportunity in Europe but we need to see what the injury situation is and reassess,” Lam said after his team’s 29-7 defeat to Ospreys over the weekend.
“We’ll know in the next 24 to 48 hours how they are. We’re really low on numbers and a lot of our starters aren’t there, but we need to dust ourselves off and we’ve got two massive games to try and get little Connacht into the last eight of the Champions Cup.”
Carty is unlikely to be fit to face Zebre with a knee problem, but Lam remains upbeat.
“If Connacht can make the last eight in Europe – and we have a genuine chance in these two games – that would be massive for us,” he said.
“The next two weeks will determine whether we can achieve that goal or not. We’ve got to get back on the horse. The minimum we want is to be in next season’s Champions Cup. We keep trying to improve and the moments when you’re struggling are when you get the most growth.”