Connacht sign Stormers back


Rugby:Connacht have confirmed the signing of the versatile South African back Danie Poolman from the Stormers on a three-year deal, while Ulster fullback/wing Conor Gaston has left the province for London Irish.

Poolman (23) is comfortable in the centre or on the wing and arrives at the Sportsground with pedigree, having experienced Currie Cup rugby with Western Province and Super Rugby with the Cape Town-based Stormers, alongside the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Gio Aplon.

At six-foot-two-inches and 15-and-a-half stone, Poolman offers physicality to the Connacht backline, but he is also “deceptively nimble”, according to the province. Connacht coach Eric Elwood said the province is “delighted to be signing a young exciting prospect such as Danie”.

He added: “He’s coming from a club with an excellent reputation for developing young talent and he has starred alongside some quality international players. He’s a strong ball-carrier with an excellent workrate both in attack and defence and I am really looking forward to working with him.”

Poolman could be eligible for Ireland in three years’ time and is “confident” he can make an impression.

"I am very excited to be joining up with Connacht,” he said. “I am looking forward to learning from their coaches, players and structures. It will be a truly international experience, I think of Ireland as a long term goal, and I am confident I can add value to the squad for next season’s league and Heineken Cup campaign.

"I am grateful and want to thank Western Province for all that I have learned and achieved, but this is really a once-in-a-lifetime be able to experience life and rugby in beautiful Ireland.”

Gaston was one of three additions – along with highly-rated Welsh youngster Gerard Ellis and Johannesburg University frontrow Shaun Malton – to the Exiles set-up today.

The former Dungannon player will be 22 next month and will head straight for the Academy with Ellis. London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith has been “impressed” by both so far this week and is looking “forward to watching them both develop further during their time in the Academy”.

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