Connacht will travel to Perpignan this weekend in search of a win that will keep their challenge cup dreams very much alive.
Irish international Bundee Aki played on Saturday as Connacht overcame Perpignan 22-10 in horrible conditions at the Sportsground, but the talisman will miss this weekend’s return encounter as he has travelled back to his native New Zealand to get married.
There were fears that Aki would miss Connacht’s following game, an interprovincial tie against reigning PRO 14 champions, Leinster, however, those rumours have been dispelled by forwards coach Jimmy Duffy.
Duffy claimed yesterday Bundee Aki’s playing time was being managed in conjunction with the Irish national team, as is the case with all international players.
“He’s back in early next week so will be available for selection. He has gone home to get married but he’s back in early next week so he will definitely be considered for next week,” Duffy told Independent.ie
The western province are in desperate need of a win this weekend having missed out on bonus points against both Perpignan and Bordeaux. They also lost to group leaders Sale Sharks which means qualification for the knockout stages may come down to one of the three spots for pool runners-up.
Former Ulster out-half Paddy Jackson looks set to return to a Perpignan side that rested a number of players for the match at the Showgrounds last weekend. Perpignan are languishing at the bottom of the Top 14 table having gone 14 games without a win.
The club is also in mourning following the news that former star lock Barend Britz was killed outside his city centre pub last week.
This tragedy coupled with their winless run makes them very dangerous going into this weekend’s game with Connacht according to Duffy.
“It’s a big occasion for Perpignan, they are obviously searching for a win,” Duffy added.
“And with a local hero, Barend Britz, unfortunately losing his life last week it’s a big occasion.
“It would have been his birthday, his 64th, this weekend which is another tough thing for that club to take.”