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A closer look at new Connacht coach Kieran Keane

Charlie Bennett

13 Jul 2017

Connacht were unable to defend their Guinness PRO12 title last season as they finished in mid-table after a disappointing start to the campaign.

But there is plenty of cause for optimism ahead of the new season, with New Zealander Kieran Keane set to take the reigns ahead of the new season.

The Christchurch-born coach replaces Pat Lam, who steered the Irish side to the title in 2016 and has now left for English side Bristol Rugby.

Special KK

As a player, Keane was a powerful inside centre and played for Canterbury at provincial level. He also played for the All Blacks, the pinnacle of any New Zealander’s sporting career, making six appearances in 1979.

But he did not play in any official Test matches and turned to coaching when his playing career finished.

And now Keane, or KK to his friends, has signed a three-year deal to take charge of Connacht and it is believed he will follow in the footsteps of Lam and promote a swashbuckling attacking style.

The 63-year-old has coached the New Zealand Under-16 and Under-17s sides.

Keane, a former school teacher, also had a spell as assistant coach to Jamie Joseph at the Highlanders from 2011 to 2012.

Tasmanian Devils

However, it was as Head Coach of Tasman Makos that the Keane had his greatest success.

During his tenure with the Makos, Keane led the team to an ITM Cup Championship victory and promotion into the Premiership in 2013.

The following year, he took them to the Premiership final, which they lost to Taranaki. Keane was a great promoter of talent and helped 15 players to move into Super Rugby.

“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,” said Connacht chief executive Willie Ruane.

“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.”

Chiefs offer glimpse into the future

Keane is perhaps best known as the assistant coach to Dave Rennie at the Chiefs, a position he has held since last year.

Ironically, the pair will come up against each other this season, with Rennie in charge of Glasgow Warriors.

In charge of the Chiefs’ attack, Keane’s men scored 76 tries in 17 games during the 2016 Super Rugby campaign.

And it is that which Connacht fans are most excited about.

Connacht shocked the world two seasons ago by winning the Guinness PRO12, with Keane in charge there is no reason why fans can’t dream again.

In the first of our series, read about new Dragons coach Bernard Jackman