Connacht loosehead prop Denis Buckley has likened the end of this campaign to a fallow period during Pat Lam’s tenure and is confident the province can bounce back.
Kieran Keane’s side looks likely to have missed out on qualification for next season’s Champions Cup in his first term in charge.
With three rounds remaining in the PRO14, Connacht are sixth in Conference A ahead of their clash with fifth-placed Ospreys at Liberty Stadium tomorrow.
In 2013-14, Lam’s first season, Connacht lost to Scarlets, Ulster, Munster, Cardiff, and Ospreys towards the end of the campaign.
And after they were knocked out of the Challenge Cup quarter-finals by Gloucester last weekend, Buckley, 27, believes there is now an opportunity to build again.
“At times we are playing really good rugby,” said Buckley. “We are playing with tempo. Gloucester, Edinburgh and Cheetahs, they struggled to live with us. When things click we are blowing teams out of the water.
“In Pat Lam’s first year here, the results might have been similar but I was thinking along the same lines. If we can use these three games and build some form, get some confidence and find that groove, it will stand to us massively going into next season.”
It was the Roscommon native’s 30th European appearance for Connacht in that 33-28 defeat to Gloucester last Saturday.
And he says the players are ready to make amends in a difficult trip to Swansea this weekend where Connacht will look for their second away win in the league this season.
“A few heads were down and the dressing room was a disappointing place to be, with the size of the game and how close it was against Gloucester,” said Buckley.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go our way. When those games are close and you are on the wrong side of it, it makes it all the more disappointing.
“But the big message is there was a lot of positives and we have build on that and look forward to this weekend. It’s all to play for. We are disappointed but have to get ourselves up.”
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