Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has warned the Scarlets to expect a hostile reception when they arrive at the newly revamped Sportsground for Saturday’s encounter.
The Galway based club have not started a league campaign with back-to-back wins since the 2006/7 season but head into their opening home game of the RaboDirect Pro12 hot on the heels of a hard fought 11-9 win over Treviso.
And Elwood is confident that his side have what it takes to keep the momentum going in front of a partisan home support.
“The expectations are there, there is pressure, there’s a buzz around Galway, season ticket sales are up, the new stand is taking shape and people are looking forward to it,” he said.
“But it’s the pressure we want, we want to be there, we want to be playing the best, competing at the highest level. We’re trying to build the brand and a lot of work has gone in on and off the pitch.
“We’re hoping people will come and roar and help us on the field with support from the terraces.”
“I’m absolutely delighted with the win against Treviso last time out. It was our first game against a team that doesn’t lose that often at home – they won eight out of 11 home games last year.
“So we showed great character and resilience. They’re very physical but I was happy with the way we defended the set-pieces and driving maul. We didn’t allow them to score a try, which was also pleasing.”
Elwood also dismissed suggestions that Scarlets would be an easier proposition with ten players absent on international duty in New Zealand.
“They are missing players but these teams with international players are missing guys for the Six Nations and the World Cup and they can plan for that,” he added.
“They have the big squads for that and they can plan and bring in the players. We have a small squad so it’s the same difference.”
“They’re coming here with a very good team and we’re under no illusions about the task we face. Scarlets are a different team and a different prospect and play a different brand of rugby to Treviso so we will change the way we play.”