Tuesday 23 January 2018

Revealed: Pat Lam says top rival players have emailed him wanting to join Connacht

Coach says rivals' players have been emailing him directly hoping to sign for high-fliers

Cian Kelleher and (right) Pat Lam
Cian Kelleher and (right) Pat Lam
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Pat Lam says he is being inundated with emails from players from rival teams looking to move to Connacht after their historic season.

The Westerners can top the Pro12 table with a bonus point win over Glasgow Warriors on Saturday after an impressive campaign that saw them beat Munster twice and Leinster once while playing an attractive brand of rugby.

Yesterday, they confirmed the signing of Leinster starlet Cian Kelleher on a two-year contract after the full-back turned down a development contract with his home province.

Despite the fact that the far more experienced Robbie Henshaw is moving the other way, Leinster have aired their grievances over the IRFU's role in Kelleher's transfer, which sees them lose one of their most-prized young players to a genuine rival.

Pat Lam:
Pat Lam: "I saw Cian (Kelleher) with the (Ireland) U-20s and I thought, ‘wow that’s a star" (Sportsfile)

Lam revealed that the highly rated Emerging Ireland player, who was called into Joe Schmidt's squad for the Barbarians game at the end of last season, contacted Connacht through his representatives to make them aware that he was interested in a move and says that an increased number of players now see Galway as the best place to play their rugby.

"The first part of the process when we do any signing is asking 'is the player available?'," Lam said. "We ask, or they let us know. From right around the country, my desk is inundated with, and I am getting personal emails, from players too now saying: 'I would like to come'.

"I saw Cian with the (Ireland) U-20s and I thought, 'wow that's a star'. But he was in the Leinster Academy. What has surprised me is that I haven't seen him involved. I saw him playing for Leinster against Zebre and score an unbelievable try from 50 metres. Then I haven't seen him again.

"Then we were notified by his agent that he was available and keen. What I am really happy about is that we have a player that has ambition to play for Ireland. He realises that in the last two years he hasn't been in the shop window.

"Now he is coming to have an opportunity to fight hard here for a place and play the brand of rugby that suits what he does to get on the stage and achieve his goals."

Meanwhile, Anthony Foley says no decision has been taken on Donnacha Ryan's availability for Ireland's tour of South Africa after the second-row was ruled out of Munster's final game of the season as he continues to suffer concussive symptoms.

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