Connacht have announced that young hooker James Rael has signed a one-year development contract with the province.
James Rael has been with Munster Academy for the last year, playing club rugby with Garryowen after playing his schools rugby with Castletroy College.
The Limerick-born hooker featured in last summer’s IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa where the Ireland Under-20s claimed their best ever finish of 5th place. The 6ft 1in forward secured the bonus point for his side against Italy, scoring a try in the second half.
The 21-year-old has nine caps with the Ireland Under-20 side, having also competed in last year’s U-20 Six Nations campaign. His performances in the number two jersey earned him a place in the Munster Academy in 2012.
Commenting on the westerners’ latest signing, Connacht assistant coach Dan McFarland said: “We are delighted that James will be joining us next season. He is coming from an environment that has produced a string of talented hookers.
“James is a talented ball player with a solid set piece game. Connacht will provide the opportunities and support for him to drive on to the next level.”