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Double boost for Connacht as westerners sign Australian Sevens star and Kiwi number eight

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Connacht have announced the signing of Ben O'Donnell (left) and Abraham Papali’i.

Connacht have announced the signing of Ben O'Donnell (left) and Abraham Papali’i.

Connacht have announced the signing of Ben O'Donnell (left) and Abraham Papali’i.

Connacht have been handed a big boost heading into the rugby restart after announcing the signing of two overseas players.

Australia Sevens star Ben O'Donnell and Bay of Plenty number eight Abraham Papali’i will join up with the western province before the start of the 2020/21 PRO14 season.

O'Donnell was given his sevens international debut by Connacht head coach Andy Friend - then coaching Australia - in 2017 and has scored 47 tries in the World Rugby Seven Series. O'Donnell won the Australia Sevens Player of the Year award in 2018 and was nominated for World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year.

New Zealander Papali’i previously played for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL before returning to rugby union with Bay of Plenty in 2017.

Speaking to Connacht rugby about the signings, Andy Friend said:

"I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.

"Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.

"Friend expressed his excitement about the announcement and what the squad can achieve in the upcoming season.

"Today’s announcement comes on the back of discussions that started a number of months ago and we are delighted to eventually be able to share this exciting news with all of our supporters today.

"These signings bring our squad up to 43 players for next season. We have freshened up and added depth to our squad in a number of key areas, having signed a healthy blend of young exciting players who have come through our Academy system as well as bringing in some additional quality and experience from further afield.

"We are an ambitious group and I firmly believe we have all the tools we need to kick on to the next level and achieve success in what is going to be a really exciting season."

Online Editors