Belfast Telegraph

Masterson is ready to kick on from delayed European bow

All set: Eoghan Masterson is ready for Toulouse challenge
All set: Eoghan Masterson is ready for Toulouse challenge

By Daragh Small

After finally making his Champions Cup debut, forward Eoghan Masterson is determined to create more history when Connacht take on Toulouse in France tomorrow.

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The 26-year-old back-row made his 80th appearance for Connacht against Montpellier last weekend, but it was his first in Europe's top competition.

A dreadful knee injury at Zebre in February 2016 ended his involvement during the PRO12-winning year and he subsequently missed the chance to feature in Europe the following season.

But Masterson finally made his bow in the stunning 23-20 win against Montpellier and he is excited about what lies ahead.

"My first year down here, when we were in the Champions Cup, I was actually in the Academy at the time, I wasn't registered to play," he said.

"Then when we won the PRO12 and qualified for the Champions Cup, I was out with my knee at that time. People say to me you are so unlucky with injury but I tell them I have only had three serious injuries but four surgeries. Outside of those I have been lucky enough, it's just when I get injured they tend to be long-term. It was pretty sweet finally making the Champions Cup debut having missed out when I would have played a few years ago."

Pat Lam's Connacht shocked Toulouse 16-14 at the Stade Ernest-Wallon in 2013 and they beat them again in the Sportsground three seasons ago.

But the French have returned to prominence since then and were outstanding in their 25-20 victory at Gloucester in the opening round.

The Portlaoise native knows it would take another massive performance but believes Connacht are capable of a shock win.

"We have ambitions of getting out of the group and it's a winner-takes-all against Toulouse now," added Masterson.

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