Connacht coach Andy Friend won’t be paying much heed to any misplaced opposition tactics he might find in Gloucester this weekend after the Harlequins team he led fell victim to “the oldest trick in the book” at Kingsholm a decade and a half ago.
Friend, who coached Harlequins from 2005-08, said his players fell for the ruse when Gloucester’s lineout and scrum tactics were apparently left on a whiteboard for them to see the day before a game at Kingsholm.
Friend will be on guard this weekend when Connacht take on Gloucester in a key Heineken Champions Cup clash.
“It was always a tricky spot there. I remember going there for a Captain’s Run the day before a game and in the away changing room all their lineout moves and scrum moves were up on the whiteboard, and you could see the players’ eyes light up.
“And I said: ‘Do not fall for that’ — but some of our players fell for it. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Back then anyway they were cunning enough to be doing that, they probably tricked a few of our younger guys.”
How did the match go? “We didn’t win. It was a Premiership match. We were waiting for moves we had read that were never going to happen.”
Friend knows they face a difficult task against a Gloucester side craving a victory after five losses in a row. Connacht’s opening-round win at home to Montpellier and a gutsy, albeit pointless, tussle in Toulouse means their qualification hopes now hinge on the two Gloucester games.
We are just looking at the first one, Sunday is a crucial one and we reckon we have a team that can go and win that and that’s the intention.
Friend has no new injury concerns, but neither has he any of the casualty list coming back, with scrum-half Kieran Marmion not set to return until the festive inter-pros.
“We are hoping he will be back for the inter-pros, same with Tiernan (O’Halloran).”
Back-rower Eoin McKeon is close to a return.