Friday 24 January 2020

Friend is facing a battle to keep Fainga'a out west as Lyon show interest

Connacht coach Andy Friend. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Connacht coach Andy Friend. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Connacht coach Andy Friend admits he has a battle on his hands to keep impressive flanker Colby Fainga'a at the Sportsground with Lyon interested in signing the 28-year-old Australian.

Fainga'a was voted last season's Players' Player of the Year in his first term out west and is attracting plenty of interest among leading clubs throughout Europe.

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Fainga'a made his debut for the Brumbies when Friend was head coach there in 2010 and the former Australian sevens and U-20 player was also selected on last term's Pro14 team of the season.

"Colby has been brilliant. I would imagine any club worth their salt would be looking at Colby Fainga'a, he is a hell of a footballer. There will be a lot of speculation around what his future is. I have no doubt that his agent and himself are probably fielding calls from everyone.

"Colby is at a stage of his career where he has got to be thinking about all sorts of things - his family, he has got a wife and two young kids. And it depends on what sort of money gets thrown at these men too. I know Colby loves it here in Connacht, I know his wife and family have settled here."

Energy

Meanwhile Friend is backing Jack Carty to rediscover the sort of form for the province which saw him break into the Irish team a year ago, insisting the Roscommon native came back full of energy this week after a break over Christmas.

And with Ireland head coach Andy Farrell facing a nervous wait on Johnny Sexton and Joey Carbery, Friend is certain the international opportunity will arise again for Carty if he gets his Connacht performances flying again.

"You don't get selected for your country unless you are playing good rugby for your province. That is what Jack did last year really well. He was one of the shining lights last year for us and he got rewarded with that green jersey. He knows the recipe to get back there and I am sure he will give it a shot.

"We saw when Jack came back, and a lot of the players that came back from the World Cup, it has been a tough campaign for those guys. His last 20 minutes here against Munster was fantastic.

"He has bounced back in here with Bundee (Aki), full of energy and can't wait to get out there on Saturday," added Friend.

Aki and Carty are among nine players who are back for Connacht for Saturday's must-win Champions Cup against Toulouse, with skipper Jarrad Butler, international lock Ultan Dillane, winger Matt Healy, centre Peter Robb, Fainga'a and props Finlay Bealham and Rory Burke also available.

Irish Independent

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