Sunday 21 January 2018

Connacht sign up Tonetti for Heineken campaign

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

CONNACHT have made a late addition to their Heineken Cup squad, with former Leinster centre Kyle Tonetti joining Eric Elwood's ranks.

The former Ireland U-20 and Sevens international spent last season at Sale Sharks and played 14 times, scoring one try, but found himself out of favour with new management.

The 24-year-old classy inside centre has a capacity to break the line and an eye for a pass. He is a graduate of St Gerard's and has played for Elwood before when the Connacht coach was over the U-20s for the 2007 Grand Slam.

"I'm really looking forward to working with Kyle again, having known him since the '07 U-20s team that won the Six Nations and I'm sure he will fit nicely into the squad. We're looking forward to him joining up with the team and working with him again."

Meanwhile, Ulster have added All Black John Afoa to their Heineken Cup squad at the expense of Ireland U-20 captain Niall Annett.

New signing Stefan Terblanche has also been registered, but he was not included in the province's provisional 32-man squad for Saturday's opener against Clermont Auvergne.

Terblanche recently signed a short-term contract as a replacement for injured Kiwi Jared Payne, but he has yet to be given the all-clear by the British Borders Agency.

Afoa looks set to feature against the French giants, but will then miss next week's clash with Leicester at Welford Road as he is due to be best man for the wedding of his good friend and All Black colleague, Jerome Kaino.

It means that Declan Fitzpatrick, who missed the last few games through injury, will be fast-tracked back for the trip to England.

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin praised the New Zealander for the way he settled into things so quickly and immediately showed what he can produce for the remainder of the season.

"He had a smashing game considering he just arrived in the country a few days earlier," said McLaughlin. "He is now ready for what is a massive game for us.

"Clermont are a class team with class players throughout their side.

"We must be right on the money to get that opening game win. We must avoid the errors that have crept into our game. We have worked on those and hopeful everything will work on the night.

"No matter what they say about how French teams travel, they will be tough.

"They are sitting just behind Toulouse at the top of the French League and they will be on a mission."

ULSTER (squad) -- Forwards: T Court, J Afoa, D Fitzpatrick, P McAllister, C Black, A Kyriacou, N Brady, R Best, S Ferris, A Macklin, J Muller, capt, T Barker, l Stevenson, D Tuohy, C Henry, R Diack, N McComb, M McComish, P Wannenberg, W Faloon. Backs: P Marshall, I Porter, I Humphreys, P Jackson, C Gilroy, S Danielli, P Wallace, I Whitten, N Spence, D Cave, A Trimble, A D'Arcy.

CONNACHT (squad) -- Forwards: B Wilkinson, R Loughney, R Ah You, D Rogers, A Flavin, E Reynecke, D Gannon, M Swift, M McCarthy, TJ Anderson, E Grace, J Muldoon, R Ofisa, G Naoupu. Backs: F Murphy, P O'Donohoe, N O'Connor, M Nikora, H Fa'afili, E Griffin, D McSharry, T O'Halloran, F Vainikolo, B Tuohy, M Jarvis, G Duffy.

Irish Independent

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