Pat Lam loses one of his deputies as Connacht appoint ex-player McPhillips as backs coach

Former head coach Eric Elwood also named on coaching staff for 2016/17.

The Connacht coaching staff after the Pro12 final win over Leinster last month.
The Connacht coaching staff after the Pro12 final win over Leinster last month.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HAVE THIS afternoon announced their coaching staff for next season, with backs coach Andre Bell leaving the set-up to return to his family in New Zealand.

The western province have appointed Conor McPhillips as Bell’s successor while former head coach Eric Elwood will join the senior setup on an advisory basis.

Bell, a former Wellington Lions head coach, joined Pat Lam’s coaching staff ahead of the 2014/15 on a two-year deal and played a central role in Connacht’s Pro12 winning campaign.

35-year-old McPhillips, who played for the province 120 times between 2003 and 2009, is now promoted to the role of backs coach for the 2016/17 season while Elwood will work closely with the goal kickers.

“I’d firstly like to thank Andre (Bell) for all his hard work and dedication to the team over the past two years,” Lam said. “Andre spent many hours working with our young back line and gave them the confidence and skills to execute our game plan effectively.

“I’m delighted that Conor has agreed to step into a fulltime coaching role after doubling up as the Head Performance Analyst and Assistant Attack Coach for last season. Conor is hugely passionate about Connacht and has given many years of service – first as a player, then an analyst and now a coach.

“He has an impressive rugby brain with an eye for the fine detail that makes a big difference. I have every confidence that he will build on the good work that Andre has done and take it to another level necessary for next season.”

Eric Elwood Eric Elwood was previously the Connacht domestic rugby manager. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

In addition to the appointment of McPhillips and Elwood, the Pro12 champions have added Simon Kavanagh (head performance analyst) to the staff.

“I believe that any team is only as good as the quality of the management team and the coaching group in place to run the programme,” Lam continued.

“By striving to improve each player to become a better rugby player and a better person, we will improve as a team and I have a lot of confidence and belief in our coaching group that we can continue to do that.”

Connacht coaching team 2016/17:

  • Pat Lam – Head coach
  • Jimmy Duffy – Forwards coach
  • Conor McPhillips – Backs coach
  • Dave Ellis – Skills coach
  • Eric Elwood – Goal kicking
  • Simon Kavanagh – Head performance analyst

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