Connacht Rugby and the IRFU have confirmed the contract extensions of young Connacht players Sean O’Brien, James Connolly, Peter Robb and Caolin Blade. The four Academy graduates, who are part of the senior set-up this season, will continue to play at the Sportsground until at least the summer of 2018.
In addition, 22-year-old Ukrainian-born prop Ivan Soroka has accepted a professional contract for 2016/17 having been on trial during the summer from Ulster Bank League champions Clontarf.
Commenting on the latest deals, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said: “This is a hugely positive move for Connacht Rugby and the squad we are looking to build for the future. Obviously Connacht-born players like Sean (O’Brien) and Caolin (Blade) are a big part of our vision of ‘Grassroots to Green Shirts’.
“Having also come through the Academy, we are very happy with the progression of Peter (Robb) and James (Connolly) to the senior squad this season and feel that they will continue to contribute positively to the team and environment here.”
The province’s head coach Pat Lam added: “I have always said that retention is a very important part of what we do. It is vital that we hold on to young players like these who have come through our Academy to the senior set-up and demonstrated that they have the talent and the right attitude to perform on and off the pitch. These four young men certainly showed their potential by playing a big part in the success of last season.
“Ivan (Soroka) has also been offered a contract for the season. Like Niyi (Adeolokun) a few years ago, we gave him a chance to come straight in from club rugby on a trial and he has shown that he has the potential and drive to succeed in a professional set-up. It’s a great opportunity for him.”
Connacht Caps: 20
Connacht Caps: 20
Connacht Caps: 19
Connacht Caps: 24
From: Kiev, Ukraine
Connacht Caps: 0
Meanwhile, ahead of next Friday’s GUINNESS PRO12 derby showdown with Ulster in Galway, the Connacht Rugby medical team have provided the following update.
Hooker Tom McCartney sustained a hamstring injury during the bonus point win over Edinburgh and is awaiting the results of a scan to determine the extent of the injury.
Fellow front rower Denis Buckley suffered a knee injury against the Scots and will be further evaluated by the medical team this week, while winger Matt Healy fractured his hand early on in the game and will see a specialist this week to determine the length of his recovery. All three players are unavailable this week.