Connacht comb market for new tighthead as they announce departing players

Centurion back row Eoghan Masterson is among the players leaving this summer.

Eoghan Masterson is among Connacht's departing players.
Eoghan Masterson is among Connacht's departing players.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

CONNACHT ARE STILL on the search for a new tighthead prop after announcing a full list of players who will leave the province at the end of the current season.

It had previously been announced that Ireland international lock Ultan Dillane, Ireland-capped centre Sammy Arnold, explosive back row Abraham Papali’i and Samoan international prop Tietie Tuimauga would be leaving, while Ireland-capped wing Matt Healy is retiring.

Connacht have now also confirmed that centurion back row Eoghan Masterson and powerful centre Peter Robb are among the other players departing.

The tighthead prop pair of Dominic Robertson-McCoy and Greg McGrath are also set to exit at the end of this season, along with Australian wing Ben O’Donnell, hooker Jonny Murphy, and wing Peter Sullivan.

The42 understands that Connacht are combing the market for a tighthead prop to supplement Ireland international Finlay Bealham, Jack Aungier, and Sam Illo in that position next season. It’s thought that Connacht don’t have a big budget for any new signing and this is a difficult time to be looking given that many players are already contracted beyond the summer.

Whatever happens next on the tighthead front, Connacht’s squad will have a renewed look to it next season with six new signings, six players promoted from the academy, and 11 players leaving.

29-year-old Masterson has been a stalwart for Connacht since his debut in 2013, returning from a horrific knee injury in 2016 to be a consistent performer for the province.

27-year-old midfielder Robb joined the Connacht academy in 2014 after coming through Leinster’s age-grade system and made an impression at senior level, playing in the 206 Pro12 final succcess, but has been dogged by injuries in recent seasons.

Landsowne wing Sullivan has done well for Connacht over the past two seasons but misses out on a contract extension with several new wide men coming in this summer, while Australia 7s international O’Donnell hasn’t featured too often due to Connacht only being able to field two ‘ANZAC’ players at any one time. John Porch is also ANZAC, as is Jarrad Butler until he gets his Irish citizenship this August.

Irish-qualified prop Dominic Robertson-McCoy arrived from New Zealand in 2016 and has played for Connacht more than 70 times but departs this summer, as does former Leinster man McGrath after one season with the westerners. 

30-year-old hooker Murphy moves on after four seasons with Connacht, having previously played for his native province, Ulster, and Rotherham Titans in the English Championship.

Connacht will finish this season with a home URC clash against Zebre in two weekends’ time.

Connacht squad for 2022/23 season so far:

LooseheadsDenis Buckley, Peter Dooley, Matthew Burke, Jordan Duggan

HookersDave Heffernan, Shane Delahunt, Dylan Tierney-Martin

TightheadsFinlay Bealham, Jack Aungier, Sam Illo

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LocksGavin Thornbury, Josh Murphy, Leva Fifita, Oisín Dowling, Niall Murray, Darragh Murray

Back rowsCian Prendergast, Jarrad Butler, Conor Oliver, Paul Boyle, Shamus Hurley-Langton, Seán Masterson, Ciaran Booth, Oisín McCormack

Scrum-halves: Kieran Marmion, Caolin Blade, Colm Reilly

Out-halves: Jack Carty, Conor Fitzgerald, Cathal Forde

CentresBundee Aki, Tom Daly, Tom Farrell, Shayne Bolton, Shane Jennings, David Hawkshaw [also plays out-half]

Back threes: Mack Hansen, Adam Byrne, John Porch, Alex Wootton, Tiernan O’Halloran, Byron Ralston, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Oran McNulty.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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