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Dublin: 10 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Marmion misses out on Ireland's Italy trip but set for 150th Connacht game

Meanwhile, the province feel Jack Carty is ready for a possible Ireland debut.

HE WOULD MUCH prefer to be in Italy this weekend winning his 25th cap for Ireland but Kieran Marmion will chalk up another memorable milestone when he plays his 150th game for Connacht as he continues his return from injury.

Marmion, who was 27 last week, came through his first action for three months when he came off the bench in Connacht’s win over the Cheetahs last Saturday and will look to step it up when they head to Glasgow on Friday night.

Kieran Marmion Marmion is just back from an ankle injury. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Connacht defence coach Pete Wilkins said Marmion has made a full recovery from ankle surgery which he underwent after starting in the November win over New Zealand.

“Marmo is back. He was really good for the minutes he got off the bench last week. It did him a lot of good.

“It is potentially his 150th cap this week which is massive for him and for us as a club. To be able to recognise that with a good performance, it just adds to the motivation,” he said.

Wilkins said out-half Jack Carty is also primed to go if he gets the nod for his Ireland debut after producing a man-of-the-match display in the crunch win over the Cheetahs at the Sportsground on Saturday.

“Jack has been magnificent. The more recognition that he has had with his time at international camp and the responsibility he takes on back here with Connacht, he has grown in those roles.

“He has relished the defensive side of the game, in improving that to make sure that he can put himself in the shop window for international recognition. He has worked really hard on his tackling and the other areas of his defensive game.

“You see how good a player he is with ball in hand. And obviously kicking in general, playing off the tee as well. Jack is in a really good space at the moment and long may it continue,” said Wilkins.

Tian Schoeman and Jack Carty Carty was man of the match last weekend. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Getting into the Champions Cup next season is Connacht’s primary target and they are currently third in Conference A, nine points adrift of Friday’s opponents Glasgow and two more off leaders Munster.

And with Ospreys and Cardiff just four points off Connacht and the Cheetahs two points further back, each game is now vital for Andy Friend’s men, so to take on Glasgow when they are without so many internationals is not the worst time.

“They contribute a large proportion to that Scottish squad,” added Wilkins. “To play them during this window, on the one hand, is helpful. On the other hand, the reason Glasgow have done so well for the last few seasons is that strength in depth they have got.

“Guys like Sam Johnson, who is now getting international recognition with Scotland, it was guys like him who were playing so well in these international windows before they were called into that Scotland squad.

“We are certainly not taking them lightly. They have got terrific strength in depth. We will need to be on our game to beat them but we are looking forward to it,” added Wilkins.

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John Fallon

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