Thursday 21 September 2017

Double boost for Connacht but fresh blow for Reds' Ryan

Donnacha Ryan (Photo: Sportsfile)
Donnacha Ryan (Photo: Sportsfile)
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

It's been a crucial few days for Connacht both on and off the pitch as three days after securing Champions Cup rugby for next season, they also tied down the futures of Jake Heenan and Craig Ronaldson.

Both have signed two-year extensions that will keep them at the club until at least 2018.

Heenan has struggled with injury this season and has only played seven times.

The highly rated flanker, who captained the New Zealand U-20s at the 2012 Junior World Cup, becomes Irish qualified at the end of June but he is facing a battle to return for the Pro12 run as a fresh ankle problem has cast his season in doubt.

Ronaldson, who is also out with an ankle injury, has enjoyed an excellent campaign and is another in a long line of examples to show the value of the AIL.

The former Lansdowne out-half was named Division 1A player of the year in 2013 and has since become a regular for Pat Lam, playing at either No 10 or No 12.

Excited

"I've known Jake for a long time now and I'm excited by how far he will take his game in the next two seasons," said head coach Lam.

"While he has been frustrated with injuries, his determination and work ethic has ensured he has come back stronger each time.

"Craig has been a great asset for our squad over the last three seasons. As an inside-centre who can cover out-half, his versatility and goal-kicking have been vital for the team as well as giving us excellent depth in the backs.

"With Champions Cup rugby guaranteed for next season, having the experience and commitment of both players to Connacht Rugby is very pleasing."

Meanwhile, the fall-out of Munster's defeat to the Westerners continues as the club confirmed that Donnacha Ryan and Johnny Holland both suffered concussion on Saturday.

Ryan was due to link up with the Ireland squad on Sunday but was forced to cry off as he follows the return to play protocols.

It's the second consecutive game that Ryan has suffered a concussion and he is likely to miss next week's crucial clash against Edinburgh.

Munster also confirmed that loosehead prop Peter McCabe has signed a one-year development contract extension, while winger Alex Wootton becomes the fifth player to graduate from the Academy this season.

Elsewhere, according to a report in France, Munster and Ulster are both monitoring Grenoble centre Chris Farrell.

The 23-year old Belfast native, who played five times for Ulster in a three-year spell, is believed to be happy in France but his head could be turned by an offer to return home and a push for international recognition.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport