Connacht will face Welsh opposition for the third week running when they visit the defending champions, the Scarlets, in Friday’s GUINNESS PRO14 round 5 tie in Llanelli (kick-off 7.35pm). The province have issued an injury update ahead of the game.
Andrew Browne is rehabilitating from an Achilles tendon injury and will be out of action for a number of weeks. Fellow second row James Cannon sustained a minor thigh strain in training last week and is currently rehabilitating under the supervision of the Connacht medical and performance staff.
In the back row ranks. Fijian Naulia Dawai is progressing well with his hamstring rehabilitation and is due to return to training next week, while Sean O’Brien is recovering following shoulder surgery last week.
Irish-qualified scrum half James Mitchell, who signed from Sale Sharks in June, is progressing well in his recovery from a shoulder injury and will return to training in the coming weeks.
Centre Peter Robb is rehabilitating from recent hip surgery and will be out of action until December, while Ireland international Tiernan O’Halloran has recovered from his hip injury sustained against the Dragons and has returned to training.
Matt Healy is progressing well with his groin rehabilitation and is due to return to training next week, Cormac Brennan has returned to training following his recent shoulder injury, and Niyi Adeolokun is continuing his recovery from knee surgery and will return to training in the coming weeks.
One member of the Connacht squad who looks in particularly rude health at the moment is back rower Eoghan Masterson. He got a full pre-season under his belt after spending more than a year out of the game due to a severe and rare knee injury which threatened to end
The 24-year-old had hit the ground running of late, making four successive appearances (three starts) for the westerners at the start of the 2017/18 campaign. He says he is ‘feeling fit’ and ‘feeling that match sharpness coming back now’.
“It’s been a good start to the season in terms of minutes. Now we are looking to build on some fuller performances for 80 minutes, and some fuller results,” he said. “Coming back off a long-term injury it is just important for me to stay healthy and fit out on the pitch.
“Get as many training sessions under my belt as I can and as much game-time. Dave Howarth, the new S&C coach at Connacht, has done a great job and come in and conditioned us in different ways, and challenged us in different ways.”
Having lost to Cardiff Blues in such frustrating circumstances, Masterson knows the pressure is on to deliver a much-improved performance this week at the home of the current title holders. Running the rule over the Scarlets, he said: “They have always been a really good team. But the first season, when I made my debut against them (in November 2013), they reached the semi-finals as well.
“The Scarlets have always had a lot of international and Lions players. But last season was the first time they really brought it all together. I remember them playing in semi-finals for a good while.
“They have always had a high calibre of player, sometimes they just didn’t break it together and gel. They did that last year so fair play to them, but they have always been a tough opposition for anyone.”