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Dublin: 1°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Connacht announce signing of Irish-qualified scrum-half from Sale

James Mitchell arrives in Galway on a two-year deal.

CONNACHT HAVE ANNOUNCED the signing of scrum-half James Mitchell on a two-year deal from Premiership side Sale Sharks.

The 22-year-old, who is Irish qualified through his maternal grandmother, will join the western province ahead of next season after spending three years at Sale.

Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks - Aviva Premiership - Franklin's Gardens Mitchell featured 12 times for Sale last season. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Born in Maidstone, Mitchell represented England at underage level from U16 onwards and played in the 2015 U20 Six Nations and Junior World Championship.

With John Cooney departing for Ulster, Mitchell will bolster Connacht’s resources in the scrum-half department with Ireland international Kieran Marmion and Caloin Blade the other nines currently on the books in Galway, while Conor McKeon was recently awarded a senior contract.

Commenting on the signing, Connacht CEO Willie Ruane said Mitchell’s arrival highlights the potential of the new IRFU IQ programme, which was launched to identify Irish qualified talent overseas.

Mitchell made his Premiership debut against Worcester back in January 2014 but played just 20 times for Sale with Peter Stringer and Mike Phillips both ahead of him in the pecking order this term.

“I’m really looking forward to moving over to Connacht,” he said.

“From speaking to a few people about the club I’m really excited by the new challenge and I believe it is a great opportunity for me.

“I’ve been watching Connacht Rugby for a few seasons now and have been really taken by the exciting brand of rugby they play. Hopefully I can make a positive contribution to the team.”

The acquisition of Mitchell follows Connacht’s capture of Irish second row Gavin Thornbury ahead of the arrival of new head coach Kieran Keane.

– Updated at 3.45pm to include Caloin Blade in article

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