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Connacht back-rower Paul Boyle is looking forward to working under the new coaching ticket in the province for the upcoming season.
Colm ‘Cullie’ Tucker, Mossy Lawler and Dewald Senekal have joined Andy Friend’s backroom for the 2021/22 season while Peter Wilkins is now the side’s senior coach after previously holding the position of defence coach.
Boyle has previously worked with Cullie Tucker and Lawler during his time in the Connacht Academy and has worked with Wilkins in the last few years.
The 24-year-old is excited to work with the familiar faces again and is also eager to get a season under his belt alongside Senekal.
“I worked with Cullie and Mossy before in the Academy – I always enjoyed working with them,” Boyle said. “Pete in his new role is doing a really good job and then Dewald, he’s kind of laying down the law with the forwards, and I’m really enjoying working under him as well.
“Even during the international window when I hadn’t met him, he was texting me wishing me the best of luck – he’s a really nice guy.
“Then coaching-wise, like I said he kind of lays down the law. Really strict, but adds a bit of fun to it as well and he has some really cool ideas around how he wants our forward pack to play.”
Forwards coach Senekal joined the province after spells with Bayonne, Grenoble (joint-head coach) and Stade Francais in recent years.
Boyle also worked with another coaching ticket this summer – Andy Farrell’s Ireland team.
The former Landsdowne man was one of six Connacht players called up to the national squad and he got his first cap against the USA.
The Dubliner values the time he spent in the Irish camp and noted that it was an enjoyable, but intense experience.
“The three-week camp was really enjoyable, it was unbelievably intense. I learned a lot and since then I’ve just been trying to implement the things I’ve learned, whether it was work-ons or good things I need to improve as well.
“I’ve just been enjoying implementing those, I got some good feedback from coaches, learned a lot off other players I was in camp with and hopefully come game time I can implement some of the things I’ve been working on.
“It was something that I had been working towards but I suppose when the call comes it is always a surprise.
“It’s a lovely surprise but it’s something I’ve been working towards for the last number of years so I was delighted as well.”
The back-rowers focus for now, however, has returned to the Connacht setup ahead of the new season.
The Westerners start their season on Friday, September 24 with a journey to Cardiff Arms Park to take one the renamed Cardiff Rugby.
Boyle is hoping for more consistent performances throughout the season after a frustrating 2020/21 campaign.
“It’s just putting in an 80-minute performance. There’s been patches of games that have got away from us.
“Even if it’s only 10-15 minutes, it’s enough to let the game slip away so it’s not only about being consistent game-to-game, it’s being consistent for the full 80 minutes as well.
“It’s about putting the head down and working hard. We’ve had plenty of weeks now to prep, we’ve had our two games, so I think it would be silly to have any excuses come the first game.”
Connacht’s opening match of the inaugural United Rugby Championship season against Cardiff gets underway on Friday at 7:35 pm and will be shown live on TG4.