Friday 28 April 2017

Masterson delighted to be back after 12-month wait

Connacht's Eoghan Masterson Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Connacht's Eoghan Masterson Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Daragh Small

Connacht back-row Eoghan Masterson is thrilled to be fit and available as he prepares to face the team that he got injured against over a year ago.

The 23-year-old No 8 suffered a gruesome knee injury in Connacht's bonus-point victory over Zebre on February 20, 2016 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

Masterson hasn't featured since that Round 15 tie in Parma last season.

The Portlaoise native, who has played 34 times for the province and scored four tries, gained match fitness through the Connacht Eagles and in the Ulster Bank League with Galwegians.

And is delighted to be back in action after a lay-off, that meant he missed out on Connacht's historic Pro12 victory over Leinster at Murrayfield in May.

Reigning champions Connacht clash with Zebre at the Sportsground tomorrow where they will look to make it four wins in a row in the league and gain further ground on the top six.

Nervous

"The knee is great. In the first game back I was a little bit of nervous of it. You get all of these terrible thoughts in your mind. But as the games have gone on it's more of a mental thing than anything else," said Masterson.

"I had that experience over in Zebre, and my memory from that game was that they were scoring lots of tries and they were very physical. That's my last memory of pro rugby really.

"I would never take Zebre or any team lightly. They have a lot of internationals coming back. From a forward's point of view it's always an unbelievably physical game. They are tough in the scrum and tough in the line-out."

Masterson has been joined at the Sportsground this season by his younger brother Sean, who signed up with the Connacht sub-academy - he made his debut for the Ireland U-20s in their win over France last weekend.

"Sean finished school last year and he was given the option to come down here and see how it went for him. He leapt at it, he loves Mayo, he loves Galway and Connacht as well," said Masterson Snr.

"Growing up in a non-rugby area we have always dreamed of being professional rugby players. I was very proud to see him line out in the green of Ireland and hopefully he just keeps his head down and keeps getting better."

Irish Independent

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