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Purdy prepared for fast-paced Connacht clash

Connacht are a familiar foe for Gloucester Rugby but Henry Purdy is adamant Sunday’s European play-off clash will be a different test entirely to when they last met.

The Cherry & Whites welcomed Connacht to Gloucestershire just last month for a European Rugby Challenge Cup quarter-final, clinching a 14-7 win on their way to lifting the trophy.

That was a bruising and gritty encounter but with summer now in full flow and the Kingsholm pitch drying out, Purdy is expecting a more end-to-end contest this time around as both clubs seek to take another step towards Champions Cup qualification.

And the former England Under-20 winger believes that is not just good news for the hosts’ electric back line, but also their fervent support.

“It was only a month or so ago but it might be a slightly different occasion, with the weather conditions,” said Purdy. “There will be a bit more rugby played, which is good and the fans will enjoy that.

“They are going to come and give it a good crack and they are never easy to beat. We had some questions asked of us but we have had a review of the last time we played them and for the most part our defence was very solid.

“The fans do have a massive say in it and they have been fantastic. I am sure they are really excited about the next two weeks.

“I think it’s massive because as a club Gloucester very much set their sights on playing at the highest level and pitching ourselves against the likes of Toulon and those French giants.

“They are all quality sides and we want to be pitching ourselves against the best.”

It has been a busy week for Purdy, starting last weekend’s Aviva Premiership Rugby defeat to Bath Rugby at the Rec before celebrating his 21st birthday on Thursday.

But he is confident that despite not having time to take a deep breath – unlike a number of senior players who were rested for the Bath game – he is ready and raring to go on Sunday.

“It was a young team that was thrown together to give some of the boys a rest,” added Purdy, reflecting on last weekend.

“I enjoyed the occasion and the sun was out at the Rec. We had nothing to lose going down there and they had something like 11 internationals in their 23.

“It was a massive challenge for those young lads – some of them were even younger than me. The boys were really up for it and all the young lads were keen on stepping up.

“I didn’t get the rest but that’s fine – I’m feeling fresh and looking forward to it.”

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