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Masterson braced to tackle Scarlets side with 'it all brought together'

The back row is returning to the peak of his powers after last season’s injury woe.

Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

CONNACHT BACK ROW Eoghan Masterson says it came as no surprise to see Scarlets win the Pro12 last season and that he expects the toughest of challenges from the champions this weekend as Connacht aim for a second win of the season.

Masterson made his Connacht debut against the Welsh region in the 2013-14 season, but since then the former Ireland and Scotland U20 international has experienced plenty of highs and lows.

The greatest high was probably seeing John Muldoon lift the Pro12 trophy 18 months ago, but it was certainly tinged with regret too considering the Laois man was on crutches that day.

A serious knee and leg injury sustained against Zebre means the powerful back-row had to spend more than a year out of the game, and there were genuine doubts whether he would ever play again.

But now that he made his comeback at the tail-end of last season, completed a full pre-season and has made four appearances this season, he’s thrilled to be making an impact for the side.

“I am feeling fit, I am feeling that match sharpness coming back now. It’s been a good start to the season in terms of minutes,” said Masterson.

“Now we are looking to build on some fuller performances for 80 minutes, and some fuller results.

“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.

Finlay Bealham and Eoghan Masterson Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Dave Howarth the new S&C coach has done a great job and come in and conditioned us in different ways, and challenged us in different ways.”

Last May it was Scarlets turn to celebrate as they claimed their second PRO12 title with victory over Munster in the Aviva Stadium decider.

Along the way they became the first team to win an away semi-final in the league by beating Leinster in Dublin, but Masterson and his team mates also saw their talents in a 30-8 win when the teams last met at the Sportsground in April.

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“They have always been a really good team. But the first season, when I made my debut against them, they reached the semi-finals as well.

“They 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.”

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