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Connacht facing big blow with key man Fainga'a set for move to France

The Aussie openside has been superb for Andy Friend’s side since his move from the Rebels.

CONNACHT ARE FACING a big blow with key man Colby Fainga’a set to sign for French club Lyon ahead of next season.

The 28-year-old Australian flanker has shone for Connacht since joining from the Rebels in 2018, earning the players’ player of the year award in his first season, as well as being named at openside in the 2018/19 Guinness Pro14 dream team.

However, The42 understands that Connacht are now set to lose one of their key men with Fainga’a joining Top 14 side Lyon this summer.

colby-faingaa Fainga'a has been superb for Connacht since joining in 2018. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Currently second in the Top 14, the financially powerful Lyon are a growing force in French rugby but openside flanker Liam Gill, another Aussie, will leave the club at the end of the current campaign. Fainga’a is seen as the ideal replacement for Gill.

Connacht had been understandably eager to keep hold of Fainga’a beyond the end of his initial two-year term and it’s understood that an offer was made by the province.

However, the discussions are believed to have stalled as Lyon swooped with a deal thought to be worth around €300,000 per season and convinced Fainga’a to shift to France.

It’s understood that Connacht are keen to recruit a replacement for Fainga’a from abroad, with their search already underway.

But confirmation of Fainga’a's departure will be a real blow to the province, who have struggled in recent weeks amidst a major injury crisis, with Andy Friend’s side losing their three festive inter-provincial clashes.

Fainga’a is among those to have been sidelined after sustaining a knee injury in December, but the former Brumbies man is in line to make his eagerly-awaited return against Toulouse in the Champions Cup on Saturday.

The back row will hope to help his province turn their form around, although it looks as though Connacht will have to do without the popular Fainga’a beyond the end of this campaign.

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Murray Kinsella

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