Connacht’s eventual appearance in the Heineken Cup three seasons ago came on the back of Leinster winning the tournament and since then it has been continued success by Joe Schmidt’s men who have kept them in it. But with a new-look competition about to be unveiled and Connacht on their best run of results in a dozen years, McSharry believes they can make it.
They head to Llanelli on Sunday hoping to equal their best ever run of five consecutive victories and McSharry reckons they can finish in the top six of the RaboDirect Pro12 and stay among Europe’s elite, especially having beaten Toulouse, Biarritz and Harlequins in the competition in the past few years.
“We’re treating this now as a cup final. It’s a big game for us and with a bigger picture ahead of finishing sixth and potentially qualifying ourselves for the Heineken Cup next year then. It would be great not to have to rely on any other favours from one of the other provinces, we want to be doing it ourselves and we’re in a good position.
“We’ve taken a few big scalps in the last few years in the Heineken Cup and I think we’ve proven to any doubters that we can compete in it and it would be a real shame if we weren’t in it.
“Especially for the supporters as well, I think they really enjoy those big games and [we] really enjoy playing them as well, so it would be great to be in it again,” said the 24-year old, who has had to battle several injuries since arriving at the Sportsground a few years ago.
“I took the option last year at the end of the season of getting surgery on both my hips. I had one hip done and six weeks later I had the next hip done as well.
“It was something I had been dealing with for a while and I probably knew I would have to get something done so it was good to get it over with and I’m feeling really good now.
“I haven’t been sitting out sessions because of it and even in the gym, being able to go back squatting and stuff like that it’s been great now.
“I’m able to push on a bit I suppose and not having it in the back of my mind the whole time has been big for me.”