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Marmion and Heenan boost Connacht for European quarter in Grenoble

Pat Lam says Jack Carty and Rory Parata are close to returning.

CONNACHT HAVE BEEN handed a major boost ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Grenoble with confirmation that Kieran Marmion and Jake Heenan are available to play.

Kieran Marmion Marmion is fit for the meeting with Grenoble. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Ireland international scrum-half Marmion missed last weekend’s defeat to Ulster due to a quad strain, but head coach Pat Lam confirmed today at the Sportsground that the 24-year-old is fit again.

Openside flanker Heenan, whose career has been stunted by serious injuries in recent years, is also back in the selection mix after his recovery from an ankle ligament issue. The Kiwi back row was close to featuring against Ulster, but has now proven his full fitness.

Nathan White continues his comeback after concussion during the win over Leinster, while Rory Parata has returned to light contact training and may be available for the Guinness Pro12 clash with Munster in two weekends’ time.

Craig Ronaldson and Ciaran Gaffney have “both returned from respective ankle injuries and they’ll start training in the next two or three weeks,” according to Lam.

Lam said he is hopeful that fullback Tiernan O’Halloran will return earlier than the initial five-week period Connacht ruled him out for due to a knee injury in training.

AJ MacGinty remains in rehabilitation after a shoulder injury against Leinster, but there was positive out-half news with Jack Carty returning to light contact work this week as he continues his recovery from a ruptured spleen.

“He got signed off to do contact, but Dave Ellis has got a progressive contact plan through him,” said Lam of Carty.

Jake Heenan Heenan is back in contention. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Obviously he’s not going straight through, but he started that yesterday. He’ll do a bit more next week and that’ll be over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully Jack could be back in the next couple of weeks.”

Shane O’Leary looks set to continue at out-half against Grenoble in the absence of Carty, MacGinty and Ronaldson, having worn the 10 shirt in last weekend’s defeat to Ulster.

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“I’ve a whole lot of confidence in him,” said Lam.

“No one’s bigger than anyone because ultimately all our group and team goals rely on everybody. The nature of the game we play, there’s going to be injuries and guys need to step in.

“Ideally, you don’t want to get down to two, three, four, but the reality is that it will happen. Shane’s been with us now, running the plays and been in the Eagles team. He stepped up and did a good job at the weekend.”

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