Connacht forward Eoghan Masterson, after finally making his Champions Cup debut last weekend, is determined to create more history in France tomorrow when they take on Toulouse.
The 26-year-old back row made his 80th appearance for Connacht at the 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 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,” said Masterson.
“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.
It is great to be part of these big games now and to be fit and involved. I am really enjoying my rugby and fortunate enough to be involved in the first seven games.
“We are getting results as well which makes it a good place to be.”
Pat Lam’s Connacht shocked Toulouse 16-14 at 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.
“Andy Friend mentioned after the game that no team that has lost their first home game has gone on to get out of the group,” said Masterson.
“We have ambitions of getting out of the group and it’s a winner-takes-all against Toulouse now. Whoever wins it will be top of the pool.
Toulouse looked really good against Gloucester. They had something like 70% possession. When they had it it was really difficult to get it off them.
“In that second half they really squeezed Gloucester and took them on up front. We know we are going to have a big day at scrum. They are a big heavy pack. And their lineout defence was really good as well.
“They are a really quality team, they won the Top14 last year and got to the semi-finals of Europe.
“It’s away from home as well which is going to be a bigger challenge.”