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Life out West suiting Tonetti

Guinness PRO12 Editor

20 Apr 2012

Kyle Tonetti and Eric Elwood go back a long way and after a successful start to his move to Connacht the centre admits he feels at home at the Sportsground.

Tonetti came through the ranks at Leinster but got to know Elwood through the Irish age group teams which the former international fly-half was coaching at the time.

With the strength in depth in the centres in Dublin it was always going to be tough for Tonetti to break into the first team with Leinster and at the start of last season he hopped across the Irish Sea to Sale.

The 24-year-old spent 18 months in Stockport but the call of home proved too strong and when the opportunity to return to the Emerald Isle and reunite with Elwood came up in December, he was never going to refuse.

“I knew Eric from the Under-20s with Ireland so when he got in touch it was a great chance to move over to Connacht,” said Tonetti who has been in great form in back-to-back RaboDirect PRO12 wins for Connacht.

“He hasn’t changed, the coaching is still very passionate and very technical.

“Moving to Sale was very good for me as a player to get out of my comfort zone.

“But as a player when you play rugby you want to be playing in your home country so it was a great chance to come back here.”

After a difficult run mid-season Connacht are starting to getting back into form with away wins over Ulster and the Dragons as they search for a highest-ever Celtic League finish.

With the strength of their provincial rivals, Connacht will finish bottom of the four Irish sides, meaning that they need Ulster or Leinster to do them a favour by winning the Heineken Cup to secure them a second season in Europe’s elite competition.

But Tonetti is adamant the Galway side are on the up and is already looking towards an improved showing next season.

He added: “We are an ambitious club at Connacht and we really want to make that step up by moving up the table.

“We are all Leinster and Ulster fans at the moment and would love to play in the Heineken Cup again next year.

“But the key for this season is to finish off with two more wins against Aironi and Glasgow.

“That will give us a lot of momentum heading into next year. From a personal point of view I’m really enjoying it here and want to stay long-term.

“Like every Irish player I want to get some international recognition and that will start with some good performances and success for Connacht.”