The personnel has remained the same, but a shift in roles means it has been another summer of change in Connacht.
udging by the disappointing nature of last weekend’s season opening defeat to Ulster, the Connacht players are still adjusting to the new systems that have been implemented.
A return for Pete Wilkins to defence, with Cullie Tucker switching to the scrum and contact, and Mossy Lawler taking on responsibility for the attack means there are plenty of new ideas in the melting pot.
Within that reshuffle, which saw Andy Friend become director of rugby, there has been an emphasis on finding the right balance between what worked last season and what needs to improve this year.
“Probably a bit of both,” centre Tom Daly explained.
“There are bits that have been continued and maybe Mossy coming in on attack has his own ideas. I’ve had Pete in a defence role before a couple of seasons ago.
“We’re working back towards what he likes in defence. It’s a bit of a mix and match. We’ll look to continue things that worked well last year, and tidy up things that didn’t work well.
“I know we didn’t have too much attacking time at the weekend, it was quite a cagey affair and we spent a lot of time defending. Hopefully over the next few weeks we get to show what we’re about in attack.”
Daly has been a real success since joining Connacht from Leinster at the end of 2018, and the Carlow native believes Lawler’s attacking philosophy will play to his strengths.
“Really excited, I’ve been really impressed with what we were doing in pre-season,” Daly said of working with the ex-Munster winger.
“Everyone’s attack system has their strengths but I’m liking what I’m doing.
“It’s giving me a good chance to show my physicality when I have to but also playmaking a bit out the back of shapes as well.
“I’m just looking forward to getting the chance to actually run it in games. Get a run of games and hopefully show my strengths.”
Fresh from helping Ireland to a historic series win in New Zealand, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen and Finlay Bealham return to help Connacht’s bid to bounce back on Saturday against reigning URC champions, the Stormers.
“They’ve come back different animals altogether,” Daly (29) added.
“They’re speaking a lot more in meetings, become a lot more vocal.
“Just having them with the group this week is going to give us an extra boost of confidence going down to South Africa.
“We know how tough it is down there but when we have a strong squad like this we can go with a lot of confidence,” added Daly.