Heenan announced in November he would be leaving Connacht at the end of this season. Camerasport/Kevin Barnes/INPHO
Recruitment Drive

Pat Lam's Bristol announce signing of Connacht flanker Heenan

The English club have also confirmed the signing of eight other players today.

BRISTOL HEAD COACH Pat Lam has moved to bolster his squad ahead of an impending return to the Premiership next season with the acquisition of Connacht flanker Jake Heenan and eight other players.

With unbeaten Bristol pulling clear at the top of the Championship, Lam has embarked on a recruitment drive with the goal of building and developing a squad capable of qualifying for the Champions Cup.

As well as the addition of Heenan, Bristol announced the capture of ex-Connacht lock Aly Muldowney, hooker Harry Thacker from Leicester Tigers, Samoan international prop Jordan Lay, former Ulster prop John Afoa, Exeter’s Shaun Malton, Nic Strizaker from the Melbourne Rebels, Yann Thomas and Tiff Eden this afternoon.

It was announced in November that Heenan would be leaving Connacht at the end of the current campaign after arriving from New Zealand in 2013, and he will link up with Lam again at Ashton Gate for the 2018/19 season.

The 25-year-old, who is currently sidelined after shoulder surgery and is not expected back until April, has played over 50 times for the western province and was an integral part of the team which won the Pro12 title under Lam in 2016.

The New Zealand-born back row captained the Baby Blacks to a runner-up finish at the 2012 Junior World Championship.

“Jake is a rugged, tough, openside flanker, who can play across the back row, very much in the McCaw mould and will bring great competition,” Lam said.

“But everyone knows about our work in the community, and Jake did tremendous work during his time in Ireland. It’s an area he’s extremely passionate about and it just made sense that he came here.”

Heenan isn’t the only member of that Pro12-winning side Lam has brought to Bristol for next year, with Muldowney signing from Top 14 side Grenoble after two seasons in France.

“He’s the perfect tight five forward to come in and make a difference on and off the field,” Lam said of the 34-year-old lock.

Bristol have already secured the services of Charles Piutau from Ulster on a two-year deal and have handed contract extensions to 12 current players as Lam’s squad takes shape.

“We want guys who fit into our five-year plan and who will improve young Bristolians in the academy,” Lam added.

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