Connacht: Andy Friend and Jack Carty disappointed with team culture following Leinster loss

Stan Wilson

Connacht head coach Andy Friend expressed his disappointment in his team’s attitude to preparation for fixtures after being knocked out of the Champions Cup.

This comes after a gutting 82-42 loss to Leinster on aggregate following a 56-20 final score from the second leg away at the Aviva Stadium.

Sat next to his coach was Connacht fly-half Jack Carty who was in full agreement with Friend‘s valid concerns regarding the squad’s attitude and work ethic.

The Ireland international nodded along as the Australian head coach commented on the lack of professionalism from his side.

Shift in attitude

“Friendy alluded to it, there has definitely been a change in the last two weeks in terms of prep and how fellas went about it,” Carty said after the match.

“I think if we potentially had that for a longer sustained period of time, that would be a big thing moving forward for us.

“I suppose when Leinster scored, we had a conversation under the sticks but it’s all well and good having conversations underneath the sticks, we need to act on that.

“Look, we restarted, they kicked back to us and we turned (the ball) over. We gave them too easy access and that’s probably the main thing for us.

“We do something poor and then we back it up with a poor action, whereas the top teams cut it there. You never see… even the Irish national team, you never see them go bad to bad to bad.

“You might see bad to bad but they cut it there and it’s always a good. Usually if you end up having three bads back-to-back, you’ll end up underneath your own sticks and I think that’s something we unfortunately had on too many occasions.”

Connacht were beaten on the basis that Leinster were more professional rugby players, not better ones according to Friend.

Carty expressed how certain players have impressed despite the obvious struggles Connacht are being faced with.

“I suppose when you have a couple of lads away with the international team, you have seen them really step forward in terms of Mack (Hansen), Finlay (Bealham) and Bundee (Aki),” he added.

“They have really grabbed certain fellas in their positions. Mack or Finlay have a couple of young fellas in their position and they have taken them under their wing.

“I suppose the last two weeks have been a tough learning curve for the front-rows but I don’t think they will come up against a tougher front-row opposition.

“It’s about what (Matthew) Burkey, Adge (Jack Aungier), Denis (Buckley), Heff (Dave Heffernan), (Jonny) Murph, what they can take from that moving forward.”

Carty’s endeavours to boost the team’s work ethic and morale haven’t gone ignored by Friend, who commented: “Listen, Jack is a humble man, he has also led the charge for us. It’s one of the plusses, we have now got some players who have been up there at national camp.

“Because when you are up there at national camp, you learn what the Leinsters do. In order to stay at that top level, you’ve got to be driving all aspects of your own performance and your own preparation.

“As Jack said, those fellas and Jack as our skipper, they have led that adjustment. To me, it’s really refreshing that it’s started, but my message again is; do not let that loss tell you that that is not the way we should be going.

“We need more of it, to be honest with you. And we can support that as coaches as well. It’s only a small thing but all these small things add up.

“There were too many small things that added up in their (Leinster’s) favour.

“At the end of the day, that does rest with me. If it’s not right then I need to take a look at what I’m doing. So that’s my big focus.”

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Leinster’s Leo Cullen expects tough clash with Leicester