Hot on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Kieran Marmion has extended his contract with the province, Connacht have moved fast to secure the services of openside flanker Willie Faloon.
Willie Faloon has put pen to paper on a two year extension with Connacht Rugby and the IRFU, bringing his contract up to the summer of 2016.
Faloon, 27, joined Connacht from his home province Ulster at the start of the 2012/13 season. The 6ft 1in, 100kg back rower has racked up 20 appearances for the westerners so far despite lengthy spells on the sidelines in the last two seasons.
In September of this year, he was dealt a major blow when he was forced to leave the pitch with a broken foot sustained in round 3 of the PRO12 against Ulster. The Armagh man was ruled out for up to six months.
Faloon had a remarkable first season with Connacht and was identified as the Player of the Month for February having just returned from a long-term injury.
The flanker played all three games during the month, which included both the home win over the Ospreys and the victory away to Cardiff Blues – Connacht’s first away success against the Welsh side since 2001.
Faloon registered his first try for the province during the 22-10 victory over the then defending champions Ospreys, his performance earning him the man-of-the-match award. A week later, he crossed for a brace of triesagainst the Blues.
He earned his first Ireland Wolfhounds cap and scored a try against Scotland ‘A’ in 2011 and also played England Saxons that same year.
Voted Ulster Academy Player of the Year in 2009, he won the AIB Cup with his native Ballynahinch and went on to earn his first Heineken Cup cap with Ulster away to Stade Francais in the same year. He played 57 times for Ulster, including 14 appearances in the Heineken Cup.
With Connacht, he has built a reputation as an abrasive ball carrier and his work-rate across the pitch has been phenomenal.
Commenting on his decision to stay at the Sportsground, Faloon said: “I’m delighted to be playing in Connacht for another two years. Since I arrived here, I’ve been made feel so welcome by the lads and supporters alike.
“Getting regular game-time has been fantastic for me. I love working with Pat (Lam) and Dan (McFarland) and the other coaches and I’m constantly challenged in new ways which is helping my game.
“Obviously it’s extremely disappointing to be injured, but I still feel very much a part of the team and am actively involved in analysis and team meetings.
“Right now, I am working hard with the physio Gavin (Malouf) and the conditioning staff to come back improved as soon as possible.”
Connacht head coach Pat Lam added: “This is another fantastic boost for the province. Willie is an exceptional player for Connacht and a great person off the field too.
“He is an important member of our squad and part of a very strong pack here. We’ve seen what he can do and his experience and work-rate adds an exciting dimension to our gameplay.
“I know Willie has been frustrated with his injury early this season, but he is continuing to work hard on the development of his game and we look forward to having him back stronger in the coming months and for the seasons ahead.”