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Two fancied ex-All Blacks out of the running for Connacht job
Tony Brown has ruled himself out, while Jono Gibbes will be staying in France.

CONNACHT’S SEARCH FOR a successor to Pat Lam will continue without two of the fancied contenders, following confirmation that former All Blacks Tony Brown and Jono Gibbes are not in the running to take over at the Sportsground.

Former All Blacks out-half Tony Brown emerged as a favourite over the weekend but he has since dismissed the move, while Gibbes has made it clear he is not leaving Clermont Auvergne.

Jono Gibbes Dan Sheridan / INPHO Gibbes will be staying put in Clermont. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Brown will coach the Highlanders during the 2017 Super Rugby season before moving to Japan to link up full-time with head coach Jamie Joseph through to the end of the 2019 World Cup which will be hosted there.

Browne, who worked with Japan during last November’s test matches, was queried on the suggested move by Japanese media but told Kyodo News he knew nothing about it.

“That’s the first I’ve heard about it. I am contracted to Japan until after the World Cup in 2019,” said the 41-year old.

Meanwhile, sources in France have confirmed that Gibbes is not in the running to take over from Lam.

An indirect approach was made to Gibbes to check out his level of interest, but the former Leinster forwards coach made it clear he would not be in the running.

Gibbes was a key figure in Leinster’s golden era, winning three Heineken Cup titles, three Pro12 crowns and an European Challenge Cup success during his six years working with Michael Cheika and Joe Schmidt before he moved to Clermont in 2014.

He has been linked with a number of head coach positions. He is contracted to Clermont until the summer of 2018 but has get-out clauses.

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 99 - Pool B - New Zealand v Italy EMPICS Sport Former All Black Tony Brown. EMPICS Sport

Meanwhile, Connacht are hopeful that Jack Carty will be fit for their trip to France this weekend to take on Toulouse, with a first ever Champions Cup quarter-final spot on the line.

The out-half said at the weekend that the knee injury he picked up against Ospreys was not as bad as first feared.

Scrum-half John Cooney converted to the number 10 position for the first time in his career and produced a superb display in the 66-21 rout of Zebre on Saturday.

Cooney, whose move to Ulster in the summer was confirmed on Monday, scored a try and landed eight out of ten conversions but Lam will be hoping that Carty can make it this weekend.

He said that they have learned over the past few seasons to take each game on its merits and, while he has billed this clash with Toulouse as possibly the biggest in Connacht’s history, the key to another win at Stade Ernest Wallon will lie in the quality of their training this week.

We’ve always been about process, regardless of winning and losing – what you do well and what you can do better – and that hasn’t changed.

“Sticking to that process for four years now has enabled us to isolate the things we can do better, rather than being bogged down by thinking things are terrible,” said Lam.

A losing bonus point could be enough for Connacht to qualify but they will head into the final round leading the pool from four-time winners Toulouse and Wasps, who lifted the crown in 2004 and 2007.

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