Former Munster centre James Downey joins Wasps on loan deal

Willie Faloon will leave Connacht and return to his native Ulster for the 2015/16 season

Former Munster centre James Downey will play for Wasps for the remainder of the season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Munster centre James Downey will play for Wasps for the remainder of the season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Former Munster centre James Downey has joined Aviva Premiership side Wasps on loan for the remainder of the season, just eight months after leaving the Irish province for a move to Glasgow Warriors.

The 33-year-old, who was capped by Ireland against Canada in 2013, has made seven appearances for the Warriors since joining on a two-year deal from Munster in June.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “This is a good opportunity for James to hopefully get some more game time between now and the end of the season and we wish him well.”

The powerful centre previously spent five years at English club Northampton, featuring in their 2011 Heineken Cup defeat to Leinster. He has also had playing stints at Leinster, Connacht and in Italy with Calvisano where he got his first real taste of Heineken Cup rugby in 2007.

The former Belvedere and UCD student added: “Wasps have some big games coming up in the Aviva Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup and my aim is to go down there and challenge for a place in the team.”

Meanwhile Ulster Rugby and Connacht have reached an agreement that will see openside flanker, Willie Faloon, leave the Sportsground and return to his native province for the 2015/16 season.

The 28 year-old has signed a one-year contract with Ulster meaning that he will be at Kingspan Stadium until at least the summer of 2016.

Faloon came through the ranks at the Hughes Insurance Ulster Academy and represented the senior Ulster team on 63 occasions between 2008 and 2012.

With stiff competition for places at Ulster, he joined Connacht at the start of the 2012 season in search of game-time and quickly established himself as a first-team regular at the Sportsground.

He has played 39 games for Connacht over the past three seasons, scoring six tries.

He has also represented the Ireland Wolfhounds and was voted Connacht’s Player of the Season in his first year in Galway by the province’s Supporters Club.

Speaking about the move, Faloon said:

“I want to thank the coaches and fans of Connacht who have backed me over the past three seasons. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time in Galway and in the next few months I am completely focused on helping Connacht be successful.”

Ulster’s Team Manager, Bryn Cunningham, added that “Willie has a hard edge to his game and he will provide us with another excellent option at Pro12 and European level.

“He has been in fantastic form for Connacht this season and he will come home to challenge for the number seven jersey.

“Such competition for starting places only serves to drive up performance levels across the board, therefore I am delighted to see Willie coming back to Belfast.”

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