Staying put: Connacht's Jack Carty. James Crombie/INPHO
A Friend in need

Friend hails new deal for 'special' Carty as a statement of Connacht's intent

The 29-year-old Ireland out-half has shunned interest from elsewhere to sign a three-year extension.

ANDY FRIEND IS hopeful that Jack Carty’s decision to sign a three-year contract extension will help him hold on to other players at the Sportsground, as well as attracting new talent to Connacht.

There were fears that Carty might head to France or England, and Friend believes that nailing down the 29-year old on a long-term deal is a huge development for the player and the squad.

“I think it’s a great statement from Connacht to offer him a three-year contract. It’s also a great statement from Jack Carty to say he’s willing to stay for three years,” said the Connacht head coach.

“That will hopefully give confidence to say, ‘well, there’s a bloke who will no doubt have had offers from other regions but this is where he wants to stay and play three years of rugby’. That can only be a good sign for us.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve managed to get that signing across the line. I’m absolutely stoked for us as a club and region, but also for Jack, because it’s a great sign of loyalty from our sign and his, for the services he’s given and what he’ll continue to give us.”

Friend, who has handed Carty the captaincy for Connacht’s last two outings in the URC against Munster and Ulster, is confident there is a lot more to come from a player who won the last of his 10 Irish caps against Russia at the 2019 World Cup. He was also drafted in as cover to the Irish squad when Johnny Sexton was injured for the Argentina game.

“He’s a very special man. He’s Connacht born and bred and really important in Connacht’s future that we keep the likes of Jack Carty here.

“He continues to grow as a player, both on and off the field. He’s really relished the opportunity to captain this year. He stepped into that with enormous ease and comfort but has taken his game to another level.

andy-friend Andy Friend pictured during today's Connacht training session at the Sportsground. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“It’s a great statement for Jack because the likes of him will be touted around the world, whether it’s France, England or other Irish teams. For him to want to stay here is a brilliant sign for Connacht rugby, and a great show of support from Jack.

“He’s been in our leadership group since the day I got here, but what’s been impressive with him has been that he’s always been a leader, but he’s now a leader that’s stepping up with both his actions and how he challenges other people.

“That’s what we’re seeing with his captaincy. He respects the fact that it’s a big title and he takes it very, very seriously so his own performance in my mind has improved ever since we’ve given him that tag.

“It’s a big ask, but he wants to make sure that he does that very well and to the best of his ability. He’s doing that at the moment and we’re the benefactors of it, which is great.”

Meanwhile, Bundee Aki has been ruled out of Friday night’s clash with Ospreys at the Sportsground with a knee injury picked up with Ireland, while lock Leva Fifita is due back from international duty with Tonga.

New signing Samoan prop Tietie Tuimaga is due to arrive in the next week as Connacht head into 10 games in succession in the URC and Europe.

Winger John Porch has undergone a minor knee procedure and is not due back in training for two weeks, but Cian Prendergast, Tom Farrell, Matt Healy and Dominic Robertson-McCoy have all returned to training from injury.

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