Tuesday 23 January 2018

'I didn’t come to the decision lightly' - Connacht captain John Muldoon signs contract extension

Connacht captain John Muldoon
Connacht captain John Muldoon
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Connacht captain John Muldoon has described his decision to remain with the province for another season as a “no-brainer.”

The talismanic 34-year old had been contemplating retirement but after holding severing discussions with Pat Lam and CEO Willie Ruane, he decided that it would be best to extend his stay into a 14th year.

Muldoon has been instrumental in Connacht’s revival under Lam and although he admitted that he is likely to play less minutes next season, he will be on hand to help the province’s young players.

“Obviously I didn’t come to the decision lightly,” a delighted Muldoon said at the Sportsground this afternoon.

“I’m conscious of the fact that I’ve been around for a long time. I suppose for me, it’s an honour to play on. I sat down with Pat (Lam) and Willie (Ruane) around this time last year.

“We decided it would be a month by month thing and see how the body was holding up and more importantly, seeing how the form was holding up.

“I didn’t want to stay on unless I was going to contribute something. I suppose missing one game and starting 16 games is not a bad return for a young fella like me.

“I’m obviously delighted. It wasn’t an easy decision but in terms of playing for Connacht Rugby, it was an easy decision.

“You want to help develop young players and I think I can probably help more on the off-field side of it next year. I’m sure from my point of view, I’ll probably end up playing less and that’d be a bit unusual for me. In terms of committing to Connacht Rugby, that’s a no-brainer.

“I’ve been here a long time, I know how the place runs. I’m looking forward to a new challenge again with a new appointment and whatever else that brings.

“I thought this was going to be my last year but month by month I let it go before finally coming to a decision last week. Tim (Allnutt) was saying I’m the easiest man to deal with when it comes to dealing with contracts!”

Muldoon remained coy when asked if he will still be Connacht’s captain next season as he pointed to several other younger leaders within the squad.

“Let’s see how I summer and see how it goes,” he smiled.

“You can’t make a call like that, it’s so far away. There are certainly a lot of people capable of being captain and stepping into the role.

“I think Tom McCartney has done a good job and there a few other lads; Eoghan Masterson, Jake (Heenan), backs are too far away to be considering any of them! But Tiernan (O’Halloran) has captained a couple of times. I’d be honoured but a lot a of questions have to come to the fore before that.”

Connacht are hopeful that Denis Buckley will recover from a foot injury to play in Sunday’s crunch Champions Cup clash in Toulouse.

The loosehead prop suffered the knock in last weekend’s win over Zebre and will be monitored for the rest of the week.

Quinn Roux (groin), Jake Heenan (knee) and Nepia Fox Matamua (chest) have all recored from respective injuries.

Ultan Dillane (ankle) is said to be “progressing very well in his rehabilitation and will integrate into partial training this week with the squad.”

The Ireland lock is unlikely to play this weekend but backs coach Conor McPhillips refused to rule him out of contention.

“Ultan is hopefully going to train again today with the physios and be reintegrated into training. But again, it’s too early for us to say on that.”

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