Possible Bundee Aki test doesn’t faze James Lang ahead of Edinburgh home run
Connacht are the visitors to Hive Stadium and are expected to welcome back at least some of their Ireland internationals. The Galway-based club may not have had as many players away at the Rugby World Cup as the other Irish provinces but the three who were selected - Aki, Mack Hansen and Finlay Bealham - would boost any side.
Connacht didn’t need them to defeat Glasgow Warriors earlier in the season and are the only team in the United Rugby Championship to have won their opening three games. They sit proudly atop the table but the caveat is they have played all their matches at home and this weekend’s clash is their first away day. Edinburgh saw their winning start ended in Dublin by Leinster last Saturday and it was a bittersweet occasion for Lang who marked his return from injury with a try off the bench.
“It was great to score because I don’t get too many of them, but disappointed not to get the win or even two [bonus] points because I think they were up for grabs at the end,” he said. “We were disappointed but we’ve addressed that and now look forward to this week against Connacht. It’s a different challenge but one that we’re relishing and definitely up to it. I’ve never played against Bundee Aki but I think the focus for us is how we play and imposing our game plan on them and hopefully we’ll get the result.”
Aki was outstanding at the World Cup as Ireland fell just short against New Zealand in the quarter-finals. The Auckland-born centre’s performances helped him make the four-man shortlist for the World Rugby men’s player of the year award but Lang is more concerned with Edinburgh making the most of a run of three home games in a row and continuing his comeback.
“It’s been a long eight weeks of rehab so it was great to be back out there at the weekend, blow out the cobwebs, of which there were a few,” he said. “I did about half of the pre-season then got injured and missed the pre-season games which are always key to getting your body right. You can’t really replicate game fitness so it’s always tough to get back. I tore my calf in training. It wasn’t too bad but it took a good few weeks to get right and I didn’t want to push it too hard with it being the beginning of the season but it’s all good now.”
Edinburgh have already beaten the Lions at home this season and will now host Connacht, the Bulls and Benetton in consecutive URC fixtures.
“It’s always great to play at the Hive in front of our fans,” added Lang. “They’ve been great, all last season and this season as well, and we want to put on a show and give them something to cheer about. We want to make this place a fortress. We know how important home games are and we need to win as many as we can. There are big challenges coming and we’re ready for them.”
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