New Connacht coach Friend signs Australian flanker from the Rebels

Colby Fainga’a previously worked with Friend at the Brumbies.

NEW CONNACHT COACH Andy Friend has made his first signing in charge of the province, with experienced flanker Colby Fainga’a set to boost the back row resources in Galway next season.

Fainga’a, who was handed his first senior contract by Friend at the Brumbies, has agreed to join Connacht from the Melbourne Rebels and will arrive in Ireland at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Melbourne Rebels Training Session Fainga'a has made 100 Super Rugby appearances. Source: Michael Dodge

The Rebels are currently occupying the final play-off berth in the overall Super Rugby standings, with the quarter-finals due to be played on 21 July, with the final down for decision on the first weekend of August.

The 27-year-old will add huge experience and considerable pedigree to Connacht’s back row following the retirement of John Muldoon and departure of Jake Heenan, and is a strong statement of intent from Friend in his first week in the job.

Fainga’a made his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies in 2010 and went onto play every game for the Canberra franchise during the 2011 campaign, before moving to the Rebels in 2014.

He has made 100 Super Rugby appearances in total and the former Australia U20 international’s performances were recognised with the Players’ Player of the Year award during his first season with the Rebels.

In addition to the arrival of Robin Copeland from Munster, Connacht have also boosted their squad with the acquisition of two other Australians ahead of the 2018/19 season — Wallaby Kyle Godwin will arrive from the Brumbies while out-half David Horwitz has signed from the Rebels.

Commenting on the signing of Fainga’a, Friend said: “We are delighted to announce the signing of Colby Fainga’a ahead of the new season.

“When I was head coach at the Brumbies, Colby signed his first professional contract with the club, so I have an in-depth knowledge of the qualities he brings.

“With 100 Super Rugby appearances under his belt, Colby brings massive experience. In addition to his versatility on the field he has a fantastic attitude off it and will be a big addition to Connacht in the seasons ahead.”

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Friend arrived in Galway last week after being appointed to succeed Kieran Keane on a three-year contract, and will conduct his first media session this afternoon during Connacht’s squad visit to Ballina RFC.

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Ryan Bailey

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