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Connacht bring in South African forwards coach who succeeded Paul O'Connell at Stade

By Sam Smith

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Connacht have unveiled their new forwards coach, appointing South African Dewald Senekal who took over from Paul O’Connell when the Irishman stepped away from the PRO14 scene with Stade Francais in 2019. Senekal played with the Cheetahs and the Lions as well as French clubs Bayonne, Toulon and Agen.

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He then began coach as Bayonne’s forwards coaching 2015 before moving on to be the joint head coach at the promotion-winning Grenoble in 2018. The 40-year-old Senekal will now replace Jimmy Duffy at Connacht, who began their Rainbow Cup campaign with a win last weekend over Ulster.

“I’m thrilled,” he said to the Irish club’s website. “I played against Connacht at The Sportsground during my time at Bayonne and was instantly struck by their loyal, passionate fanbase and the club’s infectious ambition and drive to succeed.

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England pair Shaunagh Brown and Dan Norton guest on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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England pair Shaunagh Brown and Dan Norton guest on the latest RugbyPass Offload

“There is a group of talented young players there, which is a testament to the work done at all levels the last few years, and it is my job now to help them continue their development.

“I’m very grateful to Andy and the team for giving me this opportunity and I’m counting down the days before I make the move to the west of Ireland and begin preparations for next season.”

Connacht boss Andy Friend, who has been in the job since 2018, added: “Following an extensive recruitment process, we are delighted to announce Dewald’s appointment. He is an extremely impressive individual who will add a lot to the set-up, as well as providing a fresh pair of eyes and new ideas. 

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“I know the players will really enjoy working with him and the coaches likewise. Our coaching team is now complete with Dewald joining Peter (Wilkins), Mossy (Lawlor), Colm (Tucker) and me for the next two years. We feel very optimistic about what we can achieve both as a group and in the club.”

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Connacht bring in South African forwards coach who succeeded Paul O'Connell at Stade

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