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Connacht close curtain on Keane's reign

 

By Brendan Fanning

Connacht are parting company with coach Kieran Keane after just one season of a three-year contract.

A Connacht spokesman would not comment when asked about the New Zealander's departure from the Sportsground, which is understood to be imminent.

Despite signing off with a huge win over Leinster on Saturday, Connacht finished in second last place in their Guinness Pro14 conference, one spot above Zebre. They qualified for the knockout stages of the Challenge Cup but were beaten at home in their quarter-final tie by Gloucester.

While results are not always the sole criterion in assessing the performances of coaches in Connacht, it's understood more was expected of Keane given the number of fit players available to him compared to other seasons.

A statement is not expected until loose ends are tied up regarding his contract but the search for a replacement is already under way.

Keane, described a year ago by Connacht CEO Willie Ruane as 'the perfect fit', is a former All Black with an extensive coaching CV that includes assisting Dave Rennie at the Chiefs and Jamie Joseph at the Highlanders. He was head coach of the Tasman Makos whom he led to an ITM Cup title in 2013.

• Scarlets are expected to sign scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne after his release from fellow PRO14 club Edinburgh.

The Scotland half-back can also play at fly-half and will provide depth behind Gareth Davies.

Meanwhile, Dragons and Wales centre Tyler Morgan has signed a new two-year deal with the Newport-based region.

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