Ireland Sevens internationals Brian Tuohy and Michael McComish has both been snapped up by Connacht for next season, as the westerners look to add fresh blood to their squad after finishing bottom of the Magners League.
Brian Tuohy and Michael McComish are both joining the Sportsground side from English clubs, Cornish Pirates and Otley respectively, as Connacht coach Michael Bradley rebuilds for the 2009/10 campaign.
Tuohy impressed Bradley during last year’s Churchill Cup tournament and the Limerick-born centre-cum-winger was one of Ireland’s best players at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai in March.
He was an AIB League Division One winner with Shannon in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and made one Celtic League appearance for Munster. After failing to make the breakthrough with his home province, he moved to Rotherham in 2007.
An athletic and pacy back rower with a try-scoring touch, McComish first made his mark with the Ireland Schools side and Ballymena.
Ireland Under-21 and Sevens honours followed, but he was kept on the fringes of the Ulster squad and then tried his luck in England, initially with Rotherham.
With the curtain falling on the current season a total of 13 players have left Connacht, with some of them retiring from the game.
Number 8 Colm Rigney is bowing out from professional rugby to coach the Buccaneers forwards, John Hearty has unfortunately had to retire due to injury and his centre colleague Mel Deane is moving back to England to take up a physio position with Richmond.
Like Deane, former Leinster and Ireland ‘A’ out-half Andy Dunne is retiring to concentrate on a new career as a physio.
Notably, the Connacht management have moved former Ireland Under-20 lock Andrew Browne and New Zealand-born utility back Troy Nathan up from development contracts to full deals.
Former Wellington lock Bernie Upton agreed a two-year contract with Connacht in February and he will link up with Bradley’s squad for pre-season training.
Meanwhile, another Kiwi is on his way to the Sportsground in the form of out-half Miah Nikora.
The highly-rated 24-year-old was the leading scorer for the Tasman Makos in the Air New Zealand Cup last season and was capped by New Zealand at Schools, Under-19 and Under-21 level.
Nikora, who will battle Ian Keatley for the number 10 jersey, was named in the Hurricanes’ wider training group for the 2007 Super 14 campaign before moving to the Tasman Makos last season.