Three to watch: Connacht

Andrew Lawton
05 July 2018

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Connacht were put through their paces during the Guinness PRO14 last season as the Galway side finished sixth in Conference A.

Tom Farrell

Despite reaching the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals, head coach Kieran Keane left the club at the end of a disappointing campaign.

But with new head coach Andy Friend entering the fray, there is reason for optimism for a side that have already brought in six new signings ahead of the new campaign.

We have had a look at three of the key players to keep an eye on at The Sportsground ahead of the new Guinness PRO14 season.

Robin Copeland

Following the retirement of Connacht captain John Muldoon, Robin Copeland has taken up the mantle of leading Connacht’s back row after a summer move from rivals Munster.

Capable of playing anywhere across the back, the 30-year-old has demonstrated his versatility and athletic ability since breaking onto the stage at Cardiff Blues in 2012.

With one Ireland international appearance to his name, Copeland brings a vast amount of experience to a Connacht side keen to find the form that saw them lift the title 2016.

Despite missing much of the 2015 season with a shoulder injury, the 6ft 5in Wexford-born back has shown he can capably deliver in the scoring department – going over the line on four occasions last season.

With league record appearance maker Muldoon retiring to take up the position of defensive coach at Bristol Bears – Copeland has mighty steps to fill if he is to match Muldoon’s exploits.

Kyle Godwin

After announcing his switch to Galway back in March – 25-year-old Kyle Godwin has had to bide his time to get started at Connacht after choosing to move on from Super Rugby side Brumbies.

The Zimbabwean-born centre made his Super Rugby debut for Western Force at just 19 years old, but has since been dealt an unfair hand with a series of niggling injuries halting his progress.

Recognised in 2014 as Western Force’s most outstanding player, the 6ft 1in Australian earnt his first international cap against France in November 2016.

Godwin will bring a wealth of experience and talent to the Guinness PRO14 after making 621 running metres in 11 games last season.

With an eye on returning to the international fold, Godwin will be a man on a mission next season as he gets to grip with a new league.

Tom Farrell

One of the breakout stars of Connacht’s 2017/18 Guinness PRO14 season, Tom Farrell made a big impression alongside Ireland centre Bundee Aki in Connacht’s midfield.

Making 23 appearances last term, Farrell picked up 35 points – including the winning try in Connacht’s 20-16 win over Munster last October.

After learning his trade at Leinster’s academy, the 6ft 2in centre spent a brief spell in England appearing for Bedford Blues before returning to Guinness PRO14 action at Connacht.

By January, Farrell was breaking records – topping the charts for the most carries (156), offloads (34) and defenders beaten (44) inside his first 14 appearances of the season.

With another year of experience under his belt, Farrell certainly get the pulses racing in the stands at the Sportsground.

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