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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 29 September 2020

Friend and Connacht on the lookout to fill void to be left by 'immense' Fainga'a

The Australian openside proved a shrewd signing for the Westerners.

Fainga'a at training this week.
Fainga'a at training this week.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HEAD COACH Andy Friend admits that replacing impressive flanker Colby Fainga’a will not be easy, but that a search is under way to sign a quality player to fill the vacancy left by the Australian.

Fainga’a is set for a move to Lyon in the summer and while they, like all French clubs, can’t confirm signings at this juncture in the season, Friend has accepted he won’t be at the Sportsground next season.

“Whenever you lose a player of that ability it is a reasonably large hole to fill,” said Friend.

“We are in the process of trying to fill that hole at the minute. Hopefully in the next period of time we will be able to make some announcements on that.

“Sometimes you do lose some players you would have ideally not lost, like Colby like last year, Cian Kelleher, we didn’t want to lose CK but that happens. That is pro sport.”

Fainga’a, who will be 29 net month, was voted Players’ Player of the Year in his first term at the Sportsground last season and has been constantly impressive in his 32 appearances so far for Connacht.

andy-friend Friend watches over a chilly training session in Galway this week. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fainga’a made his debut for the Brumbies when Friend was head coach there in 2010 and the former Australian Sevens and U20 player was selected on the PRO14 team of the season at the end of his first term at the Sportsground.

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Friend, who is prepping his side for a home clash against Cardiff on Saturday, said he wasn’t surprised that a number of clubs were keen to capture Fainga’a and he will be missed at the Sportsground.

He has been immense in the last 18 months that he has been here. But as all foreign players do when they come in there, they are about boosting the club and making the club better. He has certainly done that.

“As we know foreign players are never going to be here forever, because they have other places to go and will probably end up going home.

“All we ask is when they do come in here they make the place a better place, they leave a trademark. Colby has done that,” added Friend.

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John Fallon

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