Lam 'delighted' to welcome Masterson back after injury
It's been a long journey for Eoghan Masterson but after over 12 months out with a horrific knee injury, he makes his long-awaited comeback this evening as Connacht host basement side Zebre.
The 23-year-old hasn't featured since February 2016 and having had to learn how to walk again following a complicated injury that included a ruptured ACL, ruptured LCL and a torn MCL, the countless hours of rehab will go some way to paying off when he runs out at the Sportsground.
Prior to the nasty setback, Masterson had been in fine form for Connacht and for him to even be back this season is seen as a huge plus.
The Westerners could do with the powerful No 8 hitting the ground running as they look to climb up the Pro12 ladder and ensure that they are playing in the Champions Cup next season.
"I'm delighted to see Eoghan and Andrew (Browne) make their return to match action at home," Pat Lam said. "The team are buzzing for them and we're really looking forward to being back at the Sportsground."
Browne also plays for the first time this year, while former Leinster Academy out-half Steve Crosbie will make his Connacht debut.
"With a five-day turnaround on the back of our trip to Italy, we had always planned to make changes," Lam maintained.
"This will be a great opportunity for others to show what they can do. Having faced Zebre three times already this season, we can expect a tough, physical challenge.
"It's vital that we give them the respect they deserve through our preparation and execution of our own game-plan."
The home supporters will expect a bonus-point win and they shouldn't be disappointed against the worst side in the league who have won just one game all season.
Connacht - D Poolman; N Adeolokun, B Aki, T Farrell, S Ili; S Crosbie, J Cooney; R Loughney, T McCartney (capt), D Robertson-McCoy; L Stevenson, A Browne; E McKeon, N Dawai, E Masterson. Reps: D Heffernan, D Buckley, F Bealham, Q Roux, J Muldoon, K Marmion, C Ronaldson, T O'Halloran.
Zebre - D Berryman; M Bellini, T Boni, T Castello, L Greeff; S Bordoli, G Palazzani; B Postiglioni, O Fabiani, D Chistolini; Q Geldenhuys, V Bernabo (capt); M Cornelli, G Koegelenberg, F Ruzza. Reps: T D'Apice, A De Marchi, B Le Roux, J Furno, M Archetti, C Engelbrecht, M Pratichetti, G Roan.
REF - M Mitrea (Italy)
Connacht v Zebre,
Live, TG4, 7.35