Connacht pull plug on Keane regime
Connacht are to part ways with head coach Kieran Keane after just one season. The western province have not confirmed the New Zealander's departure, but it is understood he will leave his position after a disappointing first campaign in charge.
Described as "the perfect fit" by Connacht chief executive Willie Ruane, Keane was recruited from Super Rugby side Chiefs and arrived in Galway with a good reputation as a technical coach, but after presiding over a sixth-placed finish in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 and a quarter-final exit in the Challenge Cup, he is to be shown the door.
Keane has been a somewhat controversial figure during his stint, commenting frequently about the limitations of a squad that still contains plenty of figures from the 2016 league-winning campaign.
Those public utterances, in which the coach questioned his team's skills and character, did not go down well in the dressing-room, while a change in game-plan and training structure also didn't help his case.
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His side only won seven of their 21 PRO14 games, finishing second from bottom in Conference B and losing home and away to Zebre. Still, it is something of a surprise to hear that Connacht are considering changing course at this stage of the year.
When Leinster parted company with Matt O'Connor in April 2015, they found it very difficult to find a suitable replacement given most candidates had already committed for the next season.
Although John Muldoon is retiring, Connacht will have a number of new faces next season including South African out-half David Horwitz, Australia international centre Kyle Godwin and Munster No 8 Robin Copeland.
Even an improved performance in the final game of the season against Leinster was not enough to save Keane's job. Confirmation of the departure is due in the coming days and Connacht are already on the look-out for a replacement.