Revealed! Kieran Keane appointed as new Connacht Head Coach
Chiefs assistant coach Kieran Keane has been appointed as Pat Lam's successor at Connacht.
The search for Pat Lam's replacement has been ongoing since the former Samoa international announced in December that he was joining Bristiol at the end of the season.
The Super Rugby side revealed that Keane would be taking over as boss last season's Guinness Pro12 champions on a three year deal.
With a lifetime of coaching experience in New Zealand, the former All Black joins Connacht from the Chiefs, where he currently works as Assistant Coach to Dave Rennie. With Keane heading up their attack, the Super Rugby side scored an impressive 76 tries in 17 games during the 2016 campaign.
Keane, a former school teacher, also had a spell as Assistant Coach to Jamie Joseph at the Highlanders from 2011 to 2012 but it was in his role as Head Coach of the Tasman Makos that the man, more commonly known as KK, made his greatest mark.
During his tenure with the Makos, Keane led the team to an ITM Cup Championship victory and promotion into the Premiership in 2013. The following year, he took them to the premiership final, which they ultimately lost to Taranaki. As well as shaping their attacking style of rugby, Keane helped promote more than 15 players to Super Rugby during his time with the province.
Keane coached the New Zealand U-16 and U-17 age grade sides for seven years as well as the Marlborough and Hawkes Bay NPC sides. A centre in his youth, he played six times for the All Blacks in 1979, represented Canterbury for 10 seasons and played for New Zealand Universities.
“Everyone has to weigh up their future in this game and coaches are no exception. When one door closes another door opens. I have aspirations to return to head coaching and Connacht have afforded me the opportunity to realise this aspiration," Keane said.
"Connacht is a good fit for me as they have ambition and I like the passion of the community and the warmth of the people. My time in New Zealand rugby is done after 36 consecutive years of coaching at all levels which I am proud of.
"It has been stimulating and rewarding and I have made some wonderful friends and colleagues throughout this time, I am so much richer for having made their acquaintance.
“During my recent trip to the West of Ireland, I had the chance to meet many people within Connacht Rugby and I was immediately taken by the genuine passion they have for the people they represent and the ambition they have to achieve so much more.
“It was clear very early on in our discussions that Connacht Rugby was a good fit for me and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and to working with the players and everyone associated with the club.”
Connacht CEO Willie Ruane said: “Following a rigorous process, we are delighted to be able to confirm the appointment of Kieran as our new Head Coach.
“Kieran’s rugby CV speaks for itself and immediately highlighted to us that he was the perfect fit for Connacht Rugby in the context of the profile of coach that we were looking for.
“Kieran is a highly experienced Head Coach with a winning track record and a proven ability in identifying talent and maximising the full potential of that talent. His ambitious and exciting brand of rugby is also consistent with the way Connacht Rugby and in particular our players want to continue to play the game into the future.
“Kieran’s time at Tasman also highlights the connection that his teams have with the community they represent, and that is something he clearly sees in Connacht as well.
“Kieran was immediately able to identify with our vision of ‘Grassroots to Green Shirts’, further highlighting to us that he was the right man for the job."
“Everyone at Connacht Rugby is extremely excited about the future and Kieran’s appointment is key to helping us achieve the level of sustained and consistent success that we are all working towards. Before he starts, there is a lot of rugby to be played and I know Pat and the team are fully focused on delivering a really strong finish to the current season”.
Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said: “I have had a long association with Kieran and I have a deep respect for him both as a person and as a rugby coach. It is bittersweet to be farewelling him at the conclusion of our 2017 campaign; we lose a very talented rugby coach but the opportunity to Head Coach at a club like Connacht is a wonderful career opportunity for Kieran.
"Being the competitor that he is I know that he will want to leave the New Zealand scene on a high note with the Gallagher Chiefs this year.”
More to follow