United Rugby Championship

Connacht coach fires back at 'ill-informed' Jake White

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Connacht head coach Andy Friend. (Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
Connacht head coach Andy Friend. (Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Connacht boss Andy Friend has criticised Bulls head coach Jake White, stating that his comments before last Friday's United Rugby Championship game lacked respect.

White claimed that players only joined the Irish province to win a contract elsewhere. Those words evidently came back to bite for the 2007 World Cup winner as the 2016 PRO12 champions produced an excellent display to win 34-7.

It was the Pretoria outfit's second successive defeat, while Connacht got off the mark after a 33-21 loss to Cardiff in round one, but much of the post-match focus centred on what the Bulls boss had said.

"It's not water off a duck's back because it happens too much, in my view," Friend told reporters. "So it's just another comment that you store and go 'Righto, that's what people think.'

"To me, it was just an ill-informed comment, but yeah listen, they mount and it does build a little bit of frustration. It's something that we are very much in control of and something that from a squad point of view, we are saying 'Well, we've got to change their views.'

"We can only do that with our performance both on and off the field. And that's what we intend to do this season."

Friend stated that they are actively attempting to change perceptions of the province, both by their results on the field but also how they conduct themselves off it.

"We talk about three things that we think can change other people's belief in how they look at us," he added.

"One is to be a winner. That certainly helps, but it's not just a winner on the scoreboard, you've got to be a winner in other things too in the way that you conduct yourself and the way you play the game.

"So you might not win every game, but if you are playing a style that empties your tank and you show that you really care about it, that in my mind is a winner.

"There are a lot of people in this building who aren't involved in the pro rugby team that make our lives happen. So we are really proud of that, we are proud of who we represent in terms of our own lives and families.

"The last thing is, we attempt to be respectful ourselves. Hopefully you never hear me make a comment like that (comment by White). I wouldn't do that because I just feel it's disrespectful.

"We talk about being respectful and treating people the way you want to be treated.

"So if we can do those three things - be winners, be proud, be respectful - I think we will gain the respect that I think we deserve, but it's up to us to do that."

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