Wednesday 21 March 2018

Lam predicts a big future for wonder kid Masterson

Robbie Henshaw: Schoolboy to full Irish international in a year
Robbie Henshaw: Schoolboy to full Irish international in a year

John Fallon

Robbie Henshaw may have gone from schoolboy to full Irish international in a year and Connacht coach Pat Lam believes he may have another youngster on his hands who is in the fast lane.

Eoghan Masterson made his debut for Connacht last weekend against Scarlets -- just a few weeks after knocking at the door in the Sportsground looking for a trial.

Connacht academy manager Nigel Carolan gave the 20-year-old from Portlaoise an opportunity to show what he can do and the No 8 made an instant impact and was offered an academy contract.

A series of back-row injuries suddenly cleared the way for the former Portlaoise CBS student and Lam had no hesitation in throwing him in against Scarlets a week after he impressed for the Connacht Eagles against Ulster Ravens.

"It's a pretty amazing story really," said Lam. "He came knocking on the door of Nigel Carolan, just wanted an opportunity, so we put him on trial. We were pretty impressed with what we saw in an internal game.

"I just kept an eye on him as we went through. He does a lot of homework, he is very studious, he played a couple of very good 'A' games. He played a superb game last week against Ulster, so I thought why not give him the opportunity.

"I thought he held himself very well and he has got a good future in the game," added Lam.

His debut for Connacht completes a remarkable year for Masterson who had the distinction of playing for both Ireland and Scotland in 2013.

Mike Ruddock included him in the Irish U-20 squad for the Six Nations and he made his debut against Scotland off the bench in a 21-20 loss in Netherdale in February.

But when he didn't make the Irish squad for the Junior World Championship, an opportunity arose to play for Scotland where his father is from and he featured for Sean Lineen's side during the tournament.

Masterson may feature for Connacht in Edinburgh this weekend, but he won't be able to crown his remarkable year by playing against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup in the coming weeks as he is not registered.

"But there'll be certainly more Connacht games for him in the future," added Lam.

Irish Independent

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