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Connacht Squad Taking Shape For Next Season

Connacht Squad Taking Shape For Next Season

With the Magners League grand final fast approaching and the regular season done and dusted, Connacht head coach Eric Elwood has been putting the final touches to the province’s squad for the 2011/12 campaign.

With a number of players retiring and some players moving on, there will be an influx of fresh new faces at the Sportsground next season.


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* This year saw the retirement of scrum half Conor O’Loughlin through injury and Cillian Willis also hung up his boots at the end of the season, leaving Frank Murphy, Paul O’Donohoe (Leinster) and David Moore (Harlequins) as Connacht’s options at number 9.

* Matthew Jarvis (Ospreys) and Niall O’Connor (Ulster) will join Miah Nikora as the province’s out-halves.

* Fionn Carr (Leinster), Ian Keatley (Munster) and Troy Nathan (Glasgow Warriors) are moving to other Magners League teams, also leaving are Aidan Wynne, Liam Bibo, Darragh Fanning, Shane Monahan and Niva Ta’auso

Joining current Connacht backs Gavin Duffy, Keith Matthews, Brian Tuohy, Eoin Griffin and Tiernan O’Halloran are James Loxton (Cardiff Blues), Mark McCrea (Ulster) and New Zealander Fetu’u Vainikola (Highlanders).


* In the front row, Jamie Hagan and Sean Cronin are moving east to join Leinster, while Robbie Morris was forced to retire earlier this season through injury.

Barry Fa’amausili and Rob Sweeney have both moved on, allowing Stewart Maguire (Leinster) and Jamie Stephens (Galwegians) to join current props Brett Wilkinson, Dylan Rogers, Ronan Loughney and Rodney Ah You.

* Ethienne Reynecke (Saracens/Stormers) will join Adrian Flavin and Dermot Murphy as the province’s hookers.

* With former Junior All Black Bernie Upton moving to Japan, the second row options will consist of Michael Swift, Mike McCarthy, Andrew Browne and Dave Nolan. Returning number 8 George Naoupu (Kobi Steelers) is also well-versed in the engine room of the scrum

* Ray Ofisa, Johnny O’Connor, John Muldoon, Shane Conneely (Academy) and Eoin McKeon will be joined by Thomas Anderson (Ulster) and Eoghan Grace (Exeter Chiefs) in the back row selection, with Mike McComish moving to his native Ulster.

While this constitutes the bulk of the Connacht squad for next season, there may still be some additions to the playing panel over the summer months.