Thursday 26 April 2018

Butler happy to be a part of Keane's Connacht masterplan

Back-row Jarrad Butler says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go west when Connacht came knocking on his door. Photo: Sportsfile
Back-row Jarrad Butler says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go west when Connacht came knocking on his door. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

During his Super Rugby days, although Jarrad Butler never came across Kieran Keane in person, he played against the Chiefs attack often enough to not have to think twice about linking up with the Kiwi in Connacht when the call came.

Although born in Wellington, Butler moved to Queensland when he was 13 and from there, his career blossomed.

A season with the Reds in Brisbane was followed by three more with the Brumbies in Canberra. It was then that the powerful back-row started to make a name for himself.

The 26-year old has played underage rugby with the Wallabies but he has been signed as a project player which means that he will be eligible to play for Ireland in three years - before the new residency rules come into effect.

Any notions of pulling on that green jersey will be put on hold for now however, as Butler looks to first get to grips with the green of Connacht.

"Man, it came around really fast," Butler said of his move to the West.

"One minute I was in Canberra and next the opportunity came to come to the other side of the world. It was an opportunity I really didn't want to pass up.

"I spoke to Peter Wilkins (Connacht's new defence coach) in particular. He is someone that I worked with at the Reds a number of years ago. He said how good of a place Connacht was and Galway was as a community. To actually be here now is pretty exciting.

"The style of play really excited me. I really like the competition and how it's structured. I think just a change of environment as well is something that I was really looking for."

At least Butler will no longer have to contend with quelling Keane's attacking structures. Instead, Connacht's new boss views him as a central figure to what he has planned.

"I know the way the Chiefs play, I've tried to play against them many times and been unsuccessful most of the time," Butler laughed.

"They played a really good brand of footie and they had a coach there who's been in amongst it and knows how it operates. It's exciting."

On his new signing, who can play all across the back-row, Keane enthused:

"He is a very impressive man, his work-rate and raw-boned attitude to the game is music to my ears.

"Jarrad Butler's a unique individual. He has a massive utility value. He probably doesn't want to be a utility player, and he may not be, he may be able to hold a starting spot down, but he brings that to the team.

"I've a couple of thoughts where he might shine, he's a skilful player and an intelligent man."

That will be music to Butler's ears and even though he has moved halfway across the world, he has already found home comforts in Galway.

"There is a lot of similarities, to be honest," he added.

"Brumbies is this small town in Australia as well, when you get a lot of guys from all over the place, especially the big stages.

"I came from Queensland, guys come from New South Wales, which are your two strongholds.

"Everyone there has got the same goal in mind, to prove some people wrong maybe, from wherever they started and to play really good footie.

"I think that's kind of the feel I get around here as well. Then you get that strong local input as well with guys that love the place and I think the support from the Connacht fans as well.

"I think that really rubs off on people. It's infectious. Just being around town you really get that feel."

Irish Independent

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