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Connacht confirm 9 players are leaving, including the son of a 1989 Lions tour pick

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Irish Guinness PRO14 outfit Connacht have confirmed that nine players are leaving the club following the completion of their Rainbow Cup campaign with last Friday’s 26-19 home win over Ospreys.

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The identity of three Connacht departures was already known as Ireland international Quinn Roux, the second row from South Africa who qualified under residency, gave notice of his exit last month, most likely to Toulon in the Top 14. 

Other developments last month were the injury-enforced retirement of Stephen Fitzgerald and the decision by young midfielder Sean O’Brien to link up with defending Gallagher Premiership champions Exeter. 

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Connacht have now confirmed that six other players are departing the Andy Friend-run team, including Conor Dean. A son of former Ireland out-half Paul, who toured Australia with the Lions in 1989, Dean was promoted to a senior contract last summer after a stint in the Connacht academy.

A statement from the club on Tuesday read: “Connacht can confirm the players that will depart the club at the end of the season. As previously announced, Quinn Roux has moved on after seven years at Connacht, Stephen Fitzgerald has announced his retirement from rugby due to injury, and academy centre Sean O’Brien has joined Exeter Chiefs.

“Conor Dean, Colm de Buitlear, Cillian Gallagher, Conor Kenny, Stephen Kerins and Paddy McAllister will also be departing the club. Connacht are continuing to shape the professional squad for next season and further announcements will be made in due course.”

Connacht boss Friend added: “There will always be comings and goings in professional rugby. I’d like to wish all the players every success in the future, whether they are looking to further their playing careers or go down a new path. They have made a lot of sacrifices, particularly in the last year while we as a group dealt with the pandemic, so I thank them for that also. They will always be welcomed back to The Sportsground.”

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Jon 5 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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