Four Connacht players extend contracts
Rugby:Connacht extended the contracts of four of their players today that will keep them at the province until at least the end of the 2014-15 season.
All four are forwards and include New Zealand-born George Naoupu, 29, who came to Connacht from Super 14 side The Highlanders at the start of the 2009-10 season.
Hooker Jason Harris-Wright, secondrow Mick Kearney and backrow Eoin McKeon have also signed contract extensions.
It was Naoupu’s second-half try that sealed victory over Bourgoin that sent Connacht through to the 2009 Amlin Cup semi-final. The versatile forward then moved to the Kobe Steelers in Japan where for one season before returning to Connacht.
Connacht director of rugby Eric Elwood said: “George is a strong and natural leader in our team. He is a phenomenal ball carrier and shows an exceptionally high work rate game after game. His has a brilliant ability to switch from backrow to lock seamlessly.”
Speaking about the new signing and contract extensions, Connacht chief executive Tom Sears said: “The retention of key players such as George, Jason, Mick and Eoin is another clear indication that we intend to retain our best players and continue to build for a successful future.
“The fact that all of the four have committed to Connacht in the face of strong interest from elsewhere is a demonstration of both the progress they have made as players and the progress we are making as a province.
“Our squad for next season and beyond is developing very well, we are actively looking to bring in the best players we possibly can and we are confident that more of our current players will commit and we will be able to bring in some high quality signings for next year.”
Meanwhile, Naoupu will be monitored by Connacht medical staff ahead of their Heineken Cup clash against Harlequins at The Stoop on Saturday after he was stretchered off with a minor neck injury during last weekend’s victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
Kieran Marmion, Dave McSharry and Michael Swift all returned to training today and will be available for selection at the weekend.
Johnny O’Connor, who was absent last weekend due to injury, has also returned is also available for selection.