All blacks legend Mils Muliaina is set to make his debut for Connacht on Friday when they take on Zebre in the Pro12 at the Sportsground.
Another Kiwi Tom McCartney is also poised to make his first appearance for Pat Lam's men, with Connacht's other marquee signing from New Zealand, Bundee Aki, having started last day out against Ospreys. Muliaina, 34, wasn't available after joining from the Chiefs due to an elbow injury picked up earlier this year but yesterday Connacht assistant coach Dan McFarland said there is no reason why he cannot make a big impact when he finally gets game time.
"It is good to have him out there, he is a 100-capped All Black," he said yesterday. "He is available, he trained fully today and he trained fully last week. He has done the contact stuff so he is ready and available for selection."
Meanwhile, prop Ronan Loughney's return to training serves as a timely boost to Connacht's options at tight-head with Nathan White suffering a ruptured bicep in Ireland camp and uncertainty still surrounding Rodney Ah You's availability as he is in the Irish camp. "It is one of the things with having two fellas called up for international duty in that position, it does test your strength in-depth," McFarland continued.
"But Ronan has played a fair bit at tight-head in the past and Finlay Bealham has done a good bit at tighthead this year.
"Finlay has worked really hard on his conditioning to get his size up and his strength up and he has done a good job of that.
"It is nice to have had them playing at tight-head already given the fact that JP Cooney (fractured hand) is injured as well," McFarland added.