Connacht get ready for their second game down in South Africa this Saturday as they take on the Cell C Sharks at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban, kick-off is 15:05pm (Irish time)
As we near the end of season, Connacht Lock Gavin Thornbury is only hoping for more game time after recently coming back from a lengthy spell out on the side-lines due to a shoulder injury.
“The last thing I want is a break and the season to end because I just want to keep playing games” said Thornbury.
“It was meant to be a twelve-week injury and in week ten I hit a setback and from there every couple of months was a setback, so it was incredibly frustrating”
“The physio team were unbelievable, and our S&C Barry O’Brien was incredible and kept me going but it is very frustrating as you just want to play and help the squad”
Confidence is high in the squad after last weekend’s win in Johannesburg against the Emirates Lions and this camp is one where the players have been able to spend more time than usual with each other.
“The social aspect has been good and obviously getting the win on Saturday just added to it but it’s another big weekend and we are really looking forward to the challenge”
“We’re with each other the whole time which is really good as you get to know people more on that personal level which has been really positive, but it does feel different to normal”
“We’re lucky enough that both the hotels we’re staying in have good facilities, so we have darts, table tennis and a good pool to use during our time off”
Last weekend was a real test for the players when it came to training and playing at altitude which Gavin discussed this week in the lead up to this Saturday’s match in Durban.
“When we arrived over last Monday, we had a light session on Tuesday and then big enough session on Wednesday, but I think after that it was a shock to the system because you are gasping for air very quickly which I wouldn’t be used to”
“You don’t get used to it as it is very tough, but you do find ways to help yourself and I think the lads did a brilliant job on Saturday being able to control the game in certain aspects and fight through the fatigue from lack of oxygen”
The Cell C Sharks have been impressive in the Ultimate Rugby Championship this season including a good win over Leinster on Saturday and Gavin expects another tough test this weekend.
“The Sharks are a quality side who are massive set-piece focus team who have a really strong scrum, line-out and maul, they also have x-factor players in the back-line”
“It’s a massive challenge and everyone knows it but it’s one again we are really looking forward to”
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