Connacht's first major new signing for next season, South African Marnitz Boshoff, is set to strengthen Pat Lam's options in the pivotal outhalf position.
The 27-year-old joins from the Johannesburg-based Lions on a two-year deal and could be at the Sportsground for pre-season training if released from his current contract.
Capped once at national level after a brilliant first season in Super Rugby in 2013/2014, Boschoff was the highest points scorer in the 2013 Currie Cup and has earned the reputation as one of the most reliable goal kickers in the country.
It is that experience and goal kicking prowess that will be particularly useful given the greater demands expected next season, with Connacht's current duo Jack Carty and Aj MacGinty still developing.
Boshoff hails from a rugby family, with two brothers who played for the Bulls, and most of his career has been played in the No 10 jersey, although he has also played fullback.
He joined the Golden Lions for 2013, and his stock rose the following season when he finished as the top South African scorer in the Super Rugby competition with 189 points, and was named in the Springbok squad, making his international debut against Scotland. In 29 appearances for the Lions, he has kicked 214 points.
His omission from the recent Lions' tour squad to Japan and New Zealand came as something of a shock in South Africa, but Rudolph Jacobs, rugby writer with national tabloid The Citizen, suggests he may now be released from his contract to join his new club.
"Boshoff still has a contract with the Lions until the end of the year, but since the announcement was made now it can only point at one thing and that is that the Lions agreed that he be released early from his contract," said Jacobs. "And when he was left out of the Lions squad for their recent away trip in Super Rugby one could sense something is brewing."
The Lions' loss is Connacht's gain, and, if as suggested, Boshoff, known as the "scoring machine" has suffered a loss of confidence, he will certainly have the opportunity to blossom under Pat Lam at the Sportsground.
“In the context of where we are and where we are planning to be, Marnitz is an important signing for our squad," says Lam. "A lot of time and research went into identifying the right, experienced outhalf to fit the profile we were after.”
Lam said Boshoff was not only a proven and reliable goal-kicker with an outstanding kicking game, but his game management for the Lions in Super Rugby and the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup would benefit Connacht Rugby.
“His experience will be invaluable to our young backline and we’re looking forward to welcoming him and his wife Monique to the west of Ireland.”