Connacht sign Irish-qualified South African prodigy Shayne Bolton

20-year-old hailed as ‘one of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby’

Connacht have announced the signing of South African prodigy Shayne Bolton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Connacht have announced the signing of South African prodigy Shayne Bolton. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

Connacht have announced the signing of the versatile and Irish-qualified 20-year-old South African Shayne Bolton, hailing the player as “one of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby”.

Bolton, whose grandmother is from Dublin, will arrive at Connacht in time for the start of the 2021-22 season after representing the University of Free State in the Varsity Cup and also impressing in the Under-21 SA Championship.

Described as a powerful and skillful ball carrier, his ability to play centre and anywhere across the back three will be a major boost to Andy Friend’s side heading into next season.

“After we learned of Shayne’s availability and his Irish ancestry, we kept an eye on his progression and did some further work to confirm his playing ability,” said Friend. “It quickly became apparent that he was the type of player that could add real value to our squad. He has been turning heads in South Africa with his recent performances and, while he’s still only 20-years of age, he has all the attributes to become a top class professional player.

“Players with versatility are a key component we look for in our squad mix, and Shayne fits that category perfectly. He started off at fullback and on the wing before moving to centre in the last year or two, so we’re looking forward to his arrival and seeing how best to integrate him into the squad.”

Bolton described Connacht is the perfect place to begin his pro career.

“After numerous chats with Andy and Tim (Allnutt) I knew this was an opportunity I had to take. They spoke about how they pride themselves in developing players and I immediately felt that Connacht was the right place to take my game to the next level. I can’t wait to reconnect with my Irish roots and get ready for the season ahead.”

The province are also trying to sign the Munster loosehead James Cronin and their statement concluded by saying: “Connacht’s recruitment remains ongoing and further announcements will be made in due course.”

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