'We want to push further next year... we want to win some stuff' - Jarrad Butler 3 months ago

'We want to push further next year... we want to win some stuff' - Jarrad Butler

The Aussie had a fine season himself, but was quick to deflect the plaudits.

It was an odd one.

Andy Friend and Jarrad Butler, Connacht coach and captain, sat side by side in the press briefing room at Kingspan Stadium and may have been expecting a tough inquisition. The Westerners reached the quarter finals with a game of the regular season to spare and qualified for the Champions Cup by their own right.

In the quarter final, though, they were second best by a stretch to an Ulster team that gifted the visitors a way back into the game with an intercepted pass, which Colby Fainga'a then Bundee Aki punished.

Perhaps the lack of tough questions, after Connacht's 21-13 loss, reflect where many, from the outside at least, see this side. Building nicely but still a few players shy of challenging for the Guinness PRO14 title.

Friend is seeking to strengthen his squad with three new arrivals in the summer - two Irish qualified and one foreigner (N.I.Q). There will also be advancements from the Connacht academy.

As for Butler, in his first season as Connacht captain, he reflected:


"Yeah, it’s been a fun year at times and a frustrating year, but all in all when you reflect on it there’s been a lot of growth in the squad and Connacht as a whole, so looking back it’s exciting for what the future is going to hold.

"We’ve taken some really bit steps forward, obviously not enough to go on any further than now but we want to start this next pre-season at this spot here so that we can keep moving forward and hopefully push further again next year. Because we’re got a really good squad, we’ve got a really good team of coaching staff, strength and conditioning staff, and we want to win some stuff."

(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile)

"I look at this season," Butler added, "and where we were last season and the steps that we’ve taken, and the confidence we’ve been able to build and the Irish representatives we’ve been able to produce, and that’s off the back of a year of working really hard and pushing each other to be better. When we go into the next pre-season we’ll try and do it again, and keep building."

Asked for the players that had impressed him most this season, Butler replied:

"Straight off the bat, I think Jack Carty has really had a hell of a year. He’s someone who copped a little bit of stick last year and maybe beforehand _ I wasn’t here then _ but Jeeze the way he’s found his feet and got more and more confident as the season has progressed, and he’s been outstanding for us.”

"Colby (Fainga’a) coming over has been huge as well. When I found out we were signing him I was really exciting because he’s definitely one of the guys that if you were to pick a team of guys that should have been Wallabies and never was, Colby would be pretty high on that list. So when I heard he was coming to Connacht I was pretty excited and he’s delivered on that. Lots of guys have stepped up and hopefully there’ll be some more next season."