Monday 24 June 2019

Andy Friend's Connacht coaching team sign contract extensions

Connacht head coach Andy Friend prior to the Heineken Challenge Cup Pool 3 Round 6 match between Bordeaux Begles and Connacht at Stade Chaban Delmas in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Manuel Blondeau/Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Andy Friend prior to the Heineken Challenge Cup Pool 3 Round 6 match between Bordeaux Begles and Connacht at Stade Chaban Delmas in Bordeaux, France. Photo by Manuel Blondeau/Sportsfile

Andy Friend has secured his coaching team at Connacht for another two seasons

Connacht Attack Coach Nigel Carolan, Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy and Defence Coach Peter Wilkins have all signed two year contract extensions to take them up to the end of the 2020-21 season.

Making the announcement Friend said: “One of the first things that struck me when I took up the position of Head Coach of Connacht Rugby was the strength of the coaching team that was already in place.

"They are an exceptional team and one of the best collective groups I have worked with in my coaching career. Obviously a major priority for us has been to retain the services of these guys into the future and I am delighted that we are now in a position to announce this great news. We can now continue to focus on producing an exciting, attacking and ultimately winning brand of rugby for the seasons ahead.”

Carolan, former head coach with Ireland under-20s, was Connacht Academy Manager from 2004 to his appointment with the professional team in 2017.

“We have a very clear focus on where we are going as a team and a province, and we are determined to deliver further success in the seasons ahead. We pride ourselves on our attacking style and I am excited about the contribution I can make to that in the coming years," he said.

Forwards Coach Jimmy Duffy has held his current role since 2015 and was part of the coaching team that won the PRO12 Championship in 2016. He previously worked as Elite Player Development Officer in the Connacht Academy for a four year period. He has also worked with numerous age grade sides within Connacht as Head and Assistant Coach, along with seven seasons with the Ireland Under 18 side. Following his contract signing, Duffy added: “Connacht Rugby is an exciting place to be, both on and off the field. We have made progress this season on all aspects of our game and are continuing to improve. There is even more potential in the squad and I believe that we can maximise that potential in the coming seasons.”

Also extending his contract is Defence Coach Peter Wilkins who joined Connacht from Edinburgh ahead of the 2017/18 season. Wilkins began his coaching career with the RFU before moving to Australia where he worked with the Queensland Reds Super Rugby side and as Head Coach of Queensland A. Commenting on his contract extension, Wilkins added: “I am extremely honoured to be part of Connacht Rugby and I am delighted to have extended my contract for another 2 years.  I am proud of the progression we have made defensively this season and I look forward to working with all of the coaches and the squad to continue that progression in the seasons ahead.

Connacht have qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup under Friend and his backroom team and are currently fourth in Conference A of the PRO14.

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