Recovered Kieran Marmion keeps eye on old understudy

Kieran Marmion may have won 10 of his 16 Irish caps since November in a rich vein of form but he knows that the immediate impact made by his former Connacht team-mate John Cooney in Ulster will not go unnoticed.

Cooney moved to Belfast in an effort to get more game-time after playing understudy to Marmion at the Sportsground for three years, and the 27-year old has slotted seamlessly into Ruan Pienaar’s shirt with superb displays against the Cheetahs and Benetton Rugby as Ulster started with two wins.

Marmion is pleased for his former teammate.

“It’s great for him he is going alright up there,” said Marmion, who is now in his fifth season with Connacht.

Marmion was brought into the Connacht set-up by academy manager Nigel Carolan, who has now stepped up to assistant coach with new boss Kieran Keane and Marmion is delighted to see his mentor on board at senior level.

“It’s great to have him on board and he’s doing a good job so far. So hopefully the backs can keep pushing on and we keep getting some good results out there.”

Marmion has made an earlier return than scheduled given injuries to Caolin Blade and James Mitchell and while that may mean trying to fit in some rest periods down the line, it’s not something the 25-year-old is losing sleep over.

“Kieran Keane is in charge of that and I don’t need to worry about that, it’s over to him and he tells me when he wants me to play and when he wants me to rest. I just keep trucking along and making myself available.”

“He will definitely let you know when you are doing things wrong and that’s probably a good thing. Lads learn when they are under pressure a bit like that. It’s all about just learning as quickly as we can and making sure that we are competitive this year.”

Connacht head to Newport to take on the Dragons tomorrow night for their first away match, having lost their opener 18-12 to Glasgow before putting the Kings to the sword on a 32-10 scoreline .

Connacht have signed Fijian international centre Eroni Vasiteri Narumasa on a one-year deal with the option for a further year. The 28-year-old joins from the National Rugby Championship in Australia where he is playing for Fijian Drua.

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