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Connacht have handed new contracts to three of their best back rows

Eoin McKeon, Eoghan Masterson and George Naoupu have all signed new deals.

CONNACHT HAVE ANNOUNCED contract extensions for back row trio Eoin McKeon, George Naoupu and Eoghan Masterson.

Eoin McKeon Eoin McKeon has signed on until the summer of 2017. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

McKeon and Masterson have signed new two-year deals to keep them in Galway until at least 2017, while Kiwi Naoupu has been tied down until the end of the 2015/16 season.

23-year-old McKeon came through Connacht’s academy and has gone on to play for the province 62 times, including 13 starts in the current campaign. Last summer, the Galway native was part of the Emerging Ireland squad at the Tbilisi Cup.

Naoupu arrived at Connacht in 2009 from the Highlanders in his native New Zealand, spending one season in Ireland before a short-term stint with the Kobe Steelers in Japan.

The powerful back row returned to Connacht in 2011 and has won over the province’s fans with his powerful ball carrying ever since. Naoupu has made 12 starts this season under Pat Lam.

Masterson’s new contract means he moves from academy terms to senior professional status, and the 21-year-old is seen as a player of immense potential by Lam and his coaching team.

Eoghan Masterson and Shane Layden Masterson [left] is an impressive physical specimen. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Portlaoise man has played for both Ireland and Scotland at U20 level, and has already made six senior appearances for Connacht. Masterson has captained the province’s Eagles team this season.

“We’re delighted to have secured these three back rowers for the future,” said head coach Pat Lam. “All three are quality number eights but have the versatility to play right across the back row, while George can also move up into the second row.

Both George and Eoin are key senior members of our squad and their involvement and contribution this season has highlighted that.

“I am very pleased to welcome young Eoghan Masterson into the full squad from our academy for next season. We have someone who is hard working, coachable and determined to succeed.

I am very confident his growth under Nigel [Carolan] and Jimmy [Duffy, both of the Connacht academy] will continue as he aims to learn from both George and Eoin and ultimately push and challenge them going forward.

George Naoupu Naoupu will be pleased with his new contract. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“When he had to step up for us last year, he showed that he was well capable of a challenge and the entire squad and management were impressed with his maturity and ambition. He is a very exciting prospect and along with Eoin has the potential for higher honours.”

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Murray Kinsella

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