Connacht coach strikes back at White's 'ill-informed' comments
REACTION: Connacht head coach Andy Friend has lashed out at Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White after the latter’s comments about the Irish side ahead of their Round Two United Rugby Championship clash.
In a pitchside interview before the match got underway this past Friday, White described Connacht as a team made up of players who could not cut it at Leinster and are looking for contracts with big clubs.
“A lot of Leinster guys, who come down from Leinster because they didn’t get contracts up there, they come down here,” said White.
“It’s very similar to a couple of franchises we have in South Africa.
“When they don’t get contracted by the big unions, they go down to the small provinces and try and find a way to get noticed by the bigger provinces.
“As I said, we’re used to playing that sort of opposition and it will be nothing different. They’ll be looking to front up, especially after last week when they lost against Cardiff.”
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The Bulls were eventually outplayed and they lost the game 7-34. Friend said he and his players didn’t hear White’s comments before the match.
Friend said White was “ill-informed”.
“No, it’s not isolated and unfortunately people look at Connacht down the end of their nose and don’t really pay us too much respect, which we need to change and we’re aware of that,” said the Australian.
“I just thought Jake’s comments were ill-informed, to be honest with you.
“Yes, we have Leinster players, as does every team in the country. If you check out Ulster, Munster, they’ve got Leinster players too because that’s where the bulk of the population is in Ireland, it’s in Dublin, so you can only fit a certain amount of players into their squad.
“So, there’s going to be a transition of players into other squads but we really pride ourselves on our home-grown players, of which we had Dave Heffernan, Jack Carty and Tiernan O’Halloran all starting on the weekend, we had Matt Burke and Caolan Blade coming off the bench.
“So, in the 23 we had three of our own home grown and then a lot of other players who have come through our Academy.
“They may have originated in Leinster but they come down to our Academy and work really hard with the likes of Eric Elwood and at the moment Mark Sexton and Andrew Browne, but also Colly Tucker and Mossy Lawler, who have been through that programme.
“So, I just thought it was an ill-informed comment – it didn’t bode well for him. We’re proud of what we’re doing here, there’s opportunity for people to come down here.
“But certainly I don’t think it should be seen as a B-grade option for players, it’s another professional outfit and I suppose by the end of the year we’ll be able to tell you where we sit in that pecking order of one to four.”
Source: Irish Mirror