Connacht have strengthened their long-term front row options with the news that props Rodney Ah You and JP Cooney have signed one and two-year contract extensions respectively.
Both props can play on either side of the scrum giving the Connacht coaching team plenty of front row options going forward.
Rodney Ah You joined Connacht in 2010, coming from NPC side Canterbury. Growing up in Christchurch, New Zealand and attending Christchurch Boys High, the former boxer only switched to playing rugby full-time when he was 16-years-old.
Five years later, he caught the attention of head coach Eric Elwood while playing for the New Zealand Under-20s and soon made the move to the west of Ireland.
Over the last three years Ah You has notched up 41 senior caps with the westerners, while also contributing regularly to the Connacht Eagles side.
The 24-year-old prop has been capped by the All Blacks at Under-19 and Under-20 level and was also a member of New Zealand’s winning IRB Junior World Championship teams in both 2007 and 2008.
Garryowen’s Bateman Cup winning prop JP Cooney has also put pen to paper on a contract extension, keeping him at the Sportsground until 2015.
Cooney joined the province last summer and has made a notable impression for Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup this season.
The 22-year-old from Tipperary earned his first cap for the province in December 2012 when he came off the bench against Michael Bradley’s side Edinburgh.
A week later, he made his Heineken Cup debut during Connacht’s 22-14 Heineken Cup victory over French club Biarritz Olympique.
Connacht assistant coach Dan McFarland spoke about the recent signings, stating: “Rodney is a young prop with a lot of potential, who can play on both sides of the scrum.
“He offers size and power, which can be very effective at scrum time and provides big impacts around the park.
“He has shown good progress in his time in Ireland and we are hopeful that he will push on again in the coming year.
“JP can also play on either side of the scrum and he has demonstrated to us in a short period of time that he has the potential, desire and an ability to learn. I am very much looking forward to working with him over the next two years.”
Connacht CEO Tom Sears said: “I’m very pleased that Rodney and JP have committed their immediate futures with Connacht Rugby.
“Both young props have displayed destructive scrummaging and ball-carrying skill this season and I’m looking forward to watching them develop even further with the province.
“Our squad retention programme for next season has gone very well. In the last few months, five of our props have signed contract extensions and this is an area in which we are now very strong going into next season.
“There are still a number of areas we are working on and, over the coming months, we hope to announce additional player recruitments as we seek to build the strongest squad possible.”