Wednesday 17 January 2018

Connacht Contenders

Eddie O'Sullivan

Cork-born but Galway-based, O'Sullivan's pedigree is unquestioned, although he has been overlooked for a series of coaching roles since quitting as Irish supremo in 2008. He led Ireland to three Triple Crowns in the last decade, before resigning after a poor 2008 Six Nations that quickly followed the disastrous '07 World Cup campaign. O'Sullivan briefly coached Connacht before, as well as club sides Galwegians and Buccaneers, and any doubts about man-management skills would seem to be obviated by the predominantly youthful and exciting side that would be at his disposal.

Mike Ruddock

Ruddock is based in this country -- his son Rhys has played for Ireland and currently plays with Leinster, while another son, Ciaran, is also a member of the Leinster panel. The Welsh-born 53-year-old is currently employed by the IRFU as coach of the Ireland U-20s, who achieved their best ever finish at the recent IRB World Junior Championships, where they finished fifth. He led Wales to a Grand Slam title at the first attempt in 2005, although he resigned a year later after a culmination of squad revolt and contractual difficulties.

Billy Millard /

Dan McFarland

An internal appointment could feature current backs coach Billy Millard -- an Australian who joined as defence coach last summer -- and Dan McFarland, long-time prop, who assumed the coaching role for the forwards in 2007, shortly after assisting Elwood in Ireland's U-20 Grand Slam title success. The fact that Millard only arrived recently may mitigate against him and it is unsure whether McFarland might be interested in assuming a more senior coaching role in the future.

Anthony Foley

Was overlooked for the Munster head coaching role last season when the province decided to search the world in their quest to replace Tony McGahan, eventually alighting on Kiwi Rob Penney. The former Irish international is eager to eventually assume the reins full-time at Munster and, having purportedly rejected the chance to play for Connacht in the past, Foley is unlikely to feature as a realistic candidate once the main Munster job lies in waiting for him.

Irish Independent

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