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Friday 9 December 2016

Marmion and Heenan swell Lam's ranks

Kienan Marmion
Kienan Marmion

Ireland's Kieran Marmion and former New Zealand U20 Jake Heenan will swell the Connacht ranks of those fit to pursue Challenge Cup glory at Grenoble on Saturday.

"Kieran was going to play last week, but he felt his quad in kicking practise. He's available which is great," noted coach Pat Lam.

The impact of Heenan has been under-rated as a genuine openside, a typically skilled operator as a link man and as a technical terror on the floor.

Captain John Muldoon has certainly been rejuvenated by Connacht's current prosperity.

"There's a whole lot of confidence, right through the squad, the way we run pre-season and how John runs the squad," said Lam.

"When you set your goals at the start of the year, Champions Cup qualification and winning the Challenge Cup were up there.

"This game for us is no different from Ulster, Leinster and another opportunity to perform as a team. The season is coming to an end and this is an opportunity to play together.

"We looked at Grenoble. They like to move the ball with Bernard Jackman in charge and it should be a great game."

It isn't all roses in the Western garden.

The prominence of Connacht in the PRO12 League and in Europe is a double-edged sword in that it is a reflection of their success and a drain on their playing resources.

Out-half Jack Carty, Ireland tight-head Nathan White and full-back Tiernan O'Halloran have been ruled out.

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