Kieran Marmion is looking forward to a reunion with Pat Lam but is sure his former coach will have a few tricks up his sleeve.
The Connacht scrum-half is hoping to feature in Sunday's Heineken Champions Cup clash against Bristol at the Sportsground, especially after only seeing 30 minutes action in Ireland’s autumn window.
Lam led the Westerners to their finest hour, the 2016 Pro12 title, beating Leinster in a memorable final in Edinburgh.
The former Samoa international left Ireland to take charge of Bristol in 2017 and was joined by ex-Connacht captain John Muldoon the following year, who joined as the forwards coach.
"I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without him," Marmion said when asked about the influence of Lam on his career.
"I can’t really speak highly enough of him.
"He’s someone who brought me on a huge amount. I learned a lot from Pat.
"He had a lot of time for the people here and we had a lot of time for him as well.
"As a coach he put in so much time behind the scenes, he works extremely hard and he was ahead of the game in terms of trends and stuff.
"Pat will probably know a lot of my strengths, I'm sure he's got a few things that he's going to be planning for individuals on our team but we've just got to play our game, trust our systems and how we've been going and not just not look too much into them."
Marmion, a Commerce student in NUIG, has won 28 Ireland caps since making his debut in 2014.
Prior to a run-out against Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup, the 28-year-old had not been involved with the national side since the pre-World Cup warm-ups in the summer of 2019.
"It's been a long 10 weeks of little rugby so to come back here has been great," he said of watching on from the sidelines.
"It's tough when you haven't played for so long. You kind of need to be playing every week to be in the flow of things."
With Bristol losing heavily at home to Clermont and Connacht just missing out on causing a giant upset against Racing 92 in Paris, this game, says Marmion, is a must-win.
"I think the way the competition is this year, you have to be winning your home games," he added, speaking at announcement of Powers Irish Whiskey’s extended deal with Connacht Rugby.
"Obviously, with the losing bonus point last week, that will stand to us, but if we can win these next three games we'll definitely be in a good position to qualify."
Follow Leinster v Northampton (Saturday 1pm) and Connacht v Bristol (Sunday 5.30pm) with our live blogs on www.rte.ie/sport or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1 Extra and RTÉ Radio 1.