Elwood's shock Connacht exit leaves door open for return of Eddie O'Sullivan
FORMER Ireland supremo Eddie O'Sullivan is favourite to take over as Connacht's new coach following Eric Elwood's shock decision to leave at the end of the season.
Three years after his predecessor Michael Bradley announced he was stepping down, Elwood has told Connacht officials that he will end his 23-year association with the province. It is believed that Elwood (43) will be stepping away from rugby when he has completed his three-year contract and will not be moving to another club.
The former Irish out-half -- who coached Ireland's U-20s to a Six Nations triumph five years ago -- informed new Connacht CEO Tom Sears of his intentions some time ago. Elwood (below) has a young family and this is believed to be the primary decision to quit a job that consumed him seven days a week. Other members of the Connacht management were informed last week and the players were told on Monday. Connacht will have a lot of time in which to locate a replacement, but already O'Sullivan is being linked with the post.
The former Ireland coach -- who lives in Ballinasloe, Galway -- did have a spell at the Connacht helm during the 1990s and has coached Galwegians and Buccaneers.
However, Connacht may decide to continue the successful policy of promoting from within and both forwards coach Dan McFarland and defence coach Billy Millard would be a respected coaching ticket.
Early yesterday, Elwood spoke bullishly about his loyalty to his home province, rendering his apparent decision to announce his departure all the more surprising.
"I have no regrets," he said. "I had opportunities to move, to go abroad but I felt I made the right decision to stay at home. I am here to build a brand. Connacht is my province and I want to do well while I am still here."