Astroturf pitch will allow us to play the Connacht way all year - New surface excites Finlay Bealham 

The Irish international, who brought his caps to 25 in New Zealand during the summer, will be 31 on Sunday and he’s hoping the celebrations can get under way early.
Astroturf pitch will allow us to play the Connacht way all year - New surface excites Finlay Bealham 

EXPERIENCED CAMPAIGNER: Finlay Bealham will make his 177th appearance for Connacht on Friday night. ©INPHO/James Crombie

Connacht prop Finlay Bealham is hoping for an early birthday present this Friday evening by putting Munster to the sword and collecting their first points of the season.

The Irish international, who brought his caps to 25 in New Zealand during the summer, will be 31 on Sunday and he’s hoping the celebrations can get under way early.

And the Australian native, who has now made 176 appearances for Connacht, believes that the new astroturf surface at the Sportsground will really suit their style of play.

“We get a lot of rain and win here and the pitch can get buggered up by November. But now we can play our brand of rugby all year around and it’s something we’re really excited about.

“We have great footballers, natural footballers in the squad. So, the fact that now we can play our brand of rugby all year round will be excellent. We’re looking forward to the next few weeks and playing our brand of rugby this Friday.” 

Bealham revealed that the Connacht players held their own meeting without coaches before they left South Africa on Saturday after they fell to their third successive loss last weekend to the Bulls, and he’s confident that they have taken ownership of their predicament.

“We had the Bulls game and first thing Saturday morning we had a players’ meeting. All the different groups of the team presented on the areas that were big moments in the game. That meeting had just players, no coaches, and there was a lot of honesty there. Everyone said their piece. The last three games haven’t been good enough from us but there have been a lot of positives there for us.

“It might sound cliched but there are aspects of the games that were good against the Bulls and the Stormers, then other bits that let us down in both games. It’s about piecing together a performance. We’ve had a lot of honest conversations, a lot of hard work has gone in not only over the past few weeks but in pre-season.

“We all fully believe in what we are doing. If you look at the games, the work-rate and the energy from the boys has been outstanding. It’s literally one pass from getting to where we want to be. The mood is really good and we’re excited with the new pitch, we’re buzzing and there is a real excitement around the camp.” 

Bealham said they now have a chance to get their season up and running with three successive home games against Munster, Leinster and Scarlets.

“It’s always good to get home for our first home game. It’s funny but though we’ve lost three in a row and things could be quite bleak, the work off the pitch and the preparations have been second to none. That’s where we get a lot of the belief from because we know what we can do. It’s just a matter of executing when it counts the most.

“Something that has been different to previous years, lads are taking real ownership of what they’re doing. Being really brave and saying what they think and what they feel. So we’re all learning from each other. We can’t wait for Friday, a first interpro in our first home game. We’re super buzzing and you wouldn’t think we’re on three losses. We’re moving in the right direction and we’re looking forward to Friday.”

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