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Connacht distance themselves from a move for Ian Madigan

The province’s CEO, Willie Ruane, says they are well stocked at out-half.

CONNACHT HAVE ALL but shut the door on Ian Madigan joining them, with the province’s chief executive, Willie Ruane, saying that they are well serviced at out-half.

Ruane said that Madigan – who has indicated his desire to leave Bordeaux after just one season of a two-year contract – was not on the westerners’ radar.

Ian Madigan Madigan in Ireland colours during last year's Six Nations. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I think Ian Madigan is a fine player in fairness, but Ian Madigan is in France and he is contracted to another team at the moment anyway,” said Ruane.

“And we have some pretty good out-halves at Connacht Rugby, so I think we are pretty happy with where we are at.”

Jack Carty is currently Connacht’s first-choice out-half, although he will be strongly challenged by Springbok-capped Marnitz Boshoff when the former Lions man recovers from injury next month. The western province’s squad also includes Irish out-halves Shane O’Leary and Steve Crosbie.

Ruane said that new coach Kieran Keane, who is under contract as assistant coach to the Chiefs until the end of the Superb Rugby season in July or August, will oversee new signings for Connacht in the interim.

“We wouldn’t make too many decisions without consulting him in that regard because you don’t want to go off signing players that ultimately might be at odds with what he would look for in a player in a certain position. We will try to engage him as much as we can.

“He has a job to do with the Chiefs and we have to respect that, but would we like his input in terms of how we plan pre-season and what he would like done? Without a doubt,” said Ruane.

Meanwhile, as expected, Connacht backs coach Conor McPhillips is leaving to become Pat Lam’s backs coach at Bristol next season.

The former Connacht winger, widely regarded as a vital cog in last year’s Pro12 title win when he was performance analyst, took over from Andre Bell as backs coach at the outset of this season.

His departure means that forwards coach Jimmy Duffy is likely to be the only member of the Pro12 coaching team remaining with Connacht with skills coach Dave Ellis having departed mid-season.

That could pave the way for some of Keane’s fellow assistants at the Chiefs, Andrew Strawbridge and Neil Barnes, to follow him to the Sportsground.

Strawbridge, skills coach with the Super Rugby side, is well regarded and with Colin Cooper coming in to replace Dave Rennie as head coach, a full clear-out is expected at the end of the season at the Chiefs, although Barnes may be surplus to requirements at the Sportsground if Connacht opt for some continuity and keep former lock Duffy.

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John Fallon

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