If named in the team this week, it will be the fifth time Connacht fullback Tiernan O’Halloran travels to play Italian side Zebre since their inauguration in 2012.

His home team have enjoyed a 100% winning run at the Stadio Lanfranchi in Parma, and the venue will bring about fond memories for Clifden-born O’Halloran who scored the opening try the first time the two sides met in September 2012.

Voted September Player of the Month, O’Halloran, who has gone on to start all 14 PRO12 games for Pat Lam this season, said:

“We’re in a good place at the moment and are going over there with confidence.

“The break before the Dragons game was important for us as you need to switch off in what is a long season. With the position we’re in now, we need to be fresh both physically and mentally if we are going to be competing at the business end of the season and in that regard, the break was crucial.”

After a gruelling 16-match run, Connacht now face into their second of four games before another break from the Sportsground. Ospreys will visit Galway next week before a short turnaround for Connacht to face Edinburgh in Scotland. For O’Halloran, who is expected to reach the 100-cap career milestone this season, the demanding schedule has had its benefits:

“At times, we were down to the bare bones with injuries and the Academy lads had to step up. That does bring everyone closer together. There are some tough times to look back on, such as the games against Ulster, Leinster and Scarlets away. We really had to stand up and stick together and I think you can see that through the last couple of performances. Against Scarlets here at the Sportsground, we conceded a score straight after the break. They had the wind and it may have looked like they were going to take that game. But we came together, backed ourselves and I think a lot of that win came down to the mental toughness which has been building throughout the season.”

The Connacht team to face Zebre will be named on Friday at 12 noon.

Zebre v Connacht
Saturday 20th February
Stadio Lanfranchi
Kick off 5:30pm (4:30pm Irish time)

Live on TG4





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