Former Munster and Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery has been offering his thoughts on Connacht ahead of a clash with Munster in the Pro 12 on New Year's Day.
Flannery, now scrummaging coach at Munster, expressed his belief that Connacht will offer Munster a very real challenge when the two sides meet at the Sportsground, and he says that having young local players at the heart of the team is one of the main reasons he is wary ahead of the fixture.
I always really enjoyed going to Connacht because I felt there was a really good atmosphere in the Sportsground and I think that's built on the fact that they've been bringing through more and more local players that people can identify with. The crowd really gets behind them and they have a really good young nucleus of a squad, with the majority of them being lads who played with Connacht underage, and they'll be looking to hold on to those players and kick on and challenge for silverware.
Flannery then elaborated on the atmosphere that makes the Sportsground such a tough place to get a win:
We're aware that this is a real challenge. I know from playing there, and when working for TG4, that the people who go to watch Connacht don't just go to be entertained. They go because they want their team to win and they get behind them no matter what. It can be quite an intimidating place.
It will be an entertaining game for sure, Connacht vs Munster kicks off at 5pm on New Years Day and is being broadcast live on TG4.