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Keane is relishing the challenge of taking up Connacht reins

By Nick Purewal

Former New Zealand centre Kieran Keane will replace Pat Lam as Connacht head coach this summer, having signed a three-year deal to move to Galway.

The Chiefs’ attack coach will leave Super Rugby in time to head up Connacht’s preparations for the 2017-18 campaign.

Keane will also go toe-to-toe with current boss Dave Rennie next term, when the Chiefs head coach takes the reins at Glasgow Warriors.

Connacht CEO Willie Ruane hailed the appointment of an experienced, attack-minded coach who can continue the trends ushered in by Lam, who joins Bristol in the summer.

“Kieran’s rugby CV speaks for itself and immediately highlighted to us that he was the perfect fit for Connacht Rugby in the context of the profile of coach that we were looking for,” said Ruane.

“Kieran is a highly experienced head coach with a winning track record and a proven ability in identifying talent and maximising the full potential of that talent.

“His ambitious and exciting brand of rugby is also consistent with the way Connacht Rugby and in particular our players want to continue to play the game into the future.”

Keane featured in six New Zealand matches during a 10-year stint with Canterbury but never won a Test cap for the All Blacks. The former school teacher enjoyed a fruitful spell as Tasman Makos head coach that followed a stint as an assistant at the Highlanders in 2011.

“During my recent trip to the West of Ireland I had the chance to meet many people within Connacht Rugby and I was immediately taken by the genuine passion they have for the people they represent and the ambition they have to achieve so much more,” said Keane.

“It was clear very early on in our discussions that Connacht Rugby was a good fit for me and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and to working with the players and everyone associated with the club.”

• Northampton Saints are leading the chase to sign Ian Madigan if the Ireland out-half secures his release from his contract at Bordeaux-Begles.

The 27-year-old is reported to want out of the struggling Top 14 side after just one season after slipping behind New Zealander Simon Hickey in the pecking order in his first season.

It was revealed yesterday that the club are ready to let Madigan leave if they can find a replacement and he is attracting interest from several English clubs with Northampton his most likely destination.

The Saints are on the look-out for a replacement for Munster-bound JJ Hanrahan and have targeted Aaron Cruden, George Ford and Paddy Jackson without success. London Irish, Gloucester and Bristol are also monitoring the situation.

Ireland manager Paul Dean yesterday said the IRFU would attempt to lure Madigan back to the Irish system, but already Rassie Erasmus has ruled out a move to Munster.

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