New-look Connacht squad takes shape

Connacht Rugby's squad for next season continues to take shape with the recruitment of two Irish-qualified forwards this week.

Twenty-two year old Joe Maksymiw, born in Derby, is primarily a lock who has progressed through the Leicester Tigers Academy, while Jonny Murphy (26 ) joins from Rotherham Titans, having come through Ulster and played for Ireland U18,19, and 20s.

The latest new recruits brings the Connacht squad to 38, and it is expected there is still room for a loosehead prop and back-three player.

Maksymiw is a player marked for the future, having made both premiership and Champions Cup debuts for the Tigers this season.

"He is a big powerful lock who has progressed well at Leicester and he will be a good addition to Connacht Rugby."

More familiar with Irish rugby fans is the Craigavon-born hooker Jonny Murphy who now joins a talented trio at Connacht that includes Kiwi Tom McCartney (Irish qualified ), Shane Delahunt and Dave Heffernan.

Murphy is decribed by Connacht defence coach Peter Wilkins as a "powerful and robust forward" who will provide "increased options" to Connacht's game next season.

The two players will join newcomers Kyle Godwin, Davide Horwitx (both Australian ), and Irish qualified Robin Copeland.

New coach

Meanwhile the hunt is also on for a new head coach to replace Kieran Keane.

Former Ireland U20 coach Nigel Carolan, who left the Connacht Academy last season to join Keane as the backs coach, has ruled himself out of the running, preferring to gain more experience before taking on a head coach role.

The IRFU is looking to appoint the new coach as soon as possible, given that pre-season training will commence the last week in June. Players are currently involved in S & C, before heading off on holidays next week.

Meanwhile Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was also in Galway to run the rule over Connacht's prospects for the Ireland summer tour to Australia, and it is also expected two or three Connacht personnel could be included in Pat Lam's Barbarians team to face to England on May 27. John Muldoon, who heads to Bristol to link with Lam, has ruled himself out of the Barbarians, having played for the Robbie Deans' coached club in Thomond Park in 2017.

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