Two Connacht players have been rewarded with selection on the Irish squad for this summer’s tour to Argentina.
As expected Irish coach Joe Schmidt has named centre/fullback Robbie Henshaw in his 30-man squad, but scrumhalf Kieran Marmion has also been selected - a well deserved reward for a solid season.
The talented English-born scrumhalf of Irish parents who grew up in Wales was one of only seven players who featured in all Pro 12 games this season for the province. And, along with Dan Parks and Rodney Ah You, he featured in all 28 games including the six Heineken Cup fixtures.
Off the field Connacht have appointed another Kiwi to their backroom team. Napier-born Paul Bunce joins the province as the new head of fitness, taking over from Tom McLaughlin who has worked with Connacht Rugby for the past three years.
Bunce comes to Ireland from Scotland, having also worked at English premiership club Bath and Pro 12 side Newport Gwent Dragons.
According to Connacht, strength and conditioning is one area which has benefitted from the €1million in additional funding from the IRFU.
Coach Pat Lam says: "It's an exciting time for Connacht Rugby with the increased investment and support from the IRFU to improve our rugby programme. Capturing someone of Paul's considerable experience is in line with our vision and where we want to take Connacht Rugby."