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Huge boost as Lam signs new deal

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Michael Swift wins possession in a line-out ahead of Quinn Roux during a Connacht squad training session this week

Michael Swift wins possession in a line-out ahead of Quinn Roux during a Connacht squad training session this week

SPORTSFILE

Michael Swift wins possession in a line-out ahead of Quinn Roux during a Connacht squad training session this week

Connacht CEO Willie Ruane hailed Pat Lam's decision to commit his future to the province until at least summer 2018 as a huge boost for the game in the province.

Ruane said that the move gave stability and confidence and allowed strategic planning to be implemented, not just for the professional game but across every other spectrum.

"We are delighted, absolutely thrilled to have Pat Lam nailed down for another three years and it allows us to immediately look at the future and keep looking at where we want to bring Connacht too, safe in the knowledge that Pat is a fundamental part of that," he said.

Ruane, who took over as CEO during the summer, has already persuaded Eric Elwood to return to the province to head up the domestic game and he said that Lam's commitment allows them to build on the progress made.

"We have without a doubt built on the progress that has taken place over recent years and this year. We sit well where we are at this stage of the season," he said.

"We are going into a match this weekend which if we deliver a result will see us in the quarter-finals of the European Challenge Cup and sitting sixth in the Pro12.

"They are positions which we will hopefully kick on further again in the second half of the season. On both fronts we are sitting in a nice position but it is where we are at the end of the season - that is what counts and we are acutely aware of that.

"But there is no doubt, these are very exciting times for Connacht and Pat's appointment adds to that and allows us to look forward with great encouragement,."

Lam, who is in his second season in charge, said that it didn't take him long to make up his mind and stay at the Sportsground.

"To me this is not a job, it is like a calling," he said.

"To work with people who are all similar minded people that want to take this whole organisation and rugby out west to higher and beyond.

"No, it was not hard at all and more importantly my family enjoy it too and that has made it certainly easier," added the former Samoan international, whose charges travel to La Rochelle tomorrow looking to seal a Challenge Cup quarter-final berth.

Irish Independent