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Masterson returns from 12 months out as Connacht make wholesale changes

Pat Lam has named his side for the Guinness Pro12 clash with Zebre.

After a year out, Eoghan Masterson returns to professional rugby.
After a year out, Eoghan Masterson returns to professional rugby.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

EOGHAN MASTERSON RETURNS from a year-long injury absence as Connacht get set to face Zebre in the Guinness Pro12 at the Sportsgrounds Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm, TG4).

All in all there are 12 changes from the XV who started in Italy last weekend with just Danie Poolman, Niyi Adeolokun and Bundee Aki keeping their jerseys.

Poolman returns at fullback while Adeolokun is joined on the wings by Stacey Ili.

Aki and Tom Farrell form the centre partnership while former Munster man Steve Crosbie makes his first start at out-half, forming a brand new half-back pairing with John Cooney.

There are also wholesale changes to the pack where Tom McCartney is handed the captaincy.

He’s joined in the front row by Ronan Loughney and Dominic Robertson-McCoy with Lewis Stevenson and Andrew Browne – who returns for the first time this year – making up the second-row partnership.

After 12 months out of the game recovering from a serious knee injury, Eoghan Masterson starts at number eight and he’s joined in the back row by Eoin McKeon and Naulia Dawai.

Connacht (v Zebre):

15. Danie Poolman
14. Niyi Adeolokun
13. Bundee Aki
12. Tom Farrell
11. Stacey Ili
10. Steve Crosbie
9. John Cooney

1. Ronan Loughney
2. Tom McCartney (captain)
3. Dominic Robertson-McCoy
4. Lewis Stevenson
5. Andrew Browne
6. Eoin McKeon
7. Naulia Dawai
8. Eoghan Masterson

Replacements:

16. Dave Heffernan
17. Denis Buckley
18. Finlay Bealham
19. Quinn Roux
20. John Muldoon
21. Kieran Marmion
22. Craig Ronaldson
23. Tiernan O’Halloran

Zebre (v Connacht):

15. Dion Berryman
14. Mattia Bellini
13. Tommaso Boni
12. Tommaso Castello
11. Lloyd Greeff
10. Serafin Bordoli
9. Guglielmo Palazzani

8. Federico Ruzza
7. Gideon Koegelenberg
6. Matteo Cornelli
5. Valerio Bernabo (captain)
4. Quintin Geldenhuys
3. Dario Chistolini
2. Oliviero Fabiani
1. Bruno Postiglioni

Replacements:

16. Tommaso D’Apice
17. Andrea De Marchi
18. Bartholomeus Le Roux
19. Joshua Furno
20. Matteo Archetti
21. Carlo Engelbrecht
22. Matteo Pratichetti
23. Guillermo Roan

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