CONNACHT SKIPPER JARRAD Butler says it would be a shame to miss out on the Pro14 play-offs having done so well in Andy Friend’s first season in charge.

The western province go to Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma on Saturday where they face-off against Conference A basement side Zebre.

Connacht are third in the conference and ahead of a huge clash with fellow play-off chasers Cardiff Blues in Galway next weekend, Butler and his team-mates know they must win in Parma, where they have lost on their last two visits. 

The 27-year-old was rested for Connacht’s disappointing Challenge Cup exit at the hands of Sale Sharks last Friday and is determined to see his team bounce back.

“We are on the pointy end of the season, we have done all the hard work and put ourselves into a really good position, where we want to be,” said Butler.

“It would be a shame to be content now. We are really excited about trying to play some finals footy, but we know it is going to be tough.

“Every game is going to be important and we are not looking past this week. We want to get a win and put ourselves in a good position. Once we have done that we will move on to Cardiff.

“We want to be playing for some silverware. The Challenge Cup is gone now. We have just got the Pro14 and we will focus on that 100%.

“We know it is going to take three really big performances now. We can just focus on that. Hopefully, we can get the job done.”

The Wellington native has played 37 times for Connacht and scored four tries since his arrival last season.

And he will once again look to lead from the back-row against a Zebre team who have caused Connacht problems in recent seasons. 

“Where they are on the table is probably not a great reflection of the rugby they are playing,” said Butler.

“They are another one of the really strong Italian teams the way they can exit out of their half. Running the ball, when it is free-flowing rugby it really suits them the best.

“We are not looking to reinvent the wheel defensively, but definitely have some strong structure in place so when we go there, we don’t let them play that free-flowing game.”

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