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'One of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby' - Connacht sign Irish-qualified star

20-year-old Shayne Bolton can play in the center or back three.

Going west: Shayne Bolton.
Going west: Shayne Bolton.

CONNACHT HAVE ANNOUNCED the signing of Irish-qualified South African back Shayne Bolton.

The news, as reported by The42 last night, was confirmed this afternoon.

The versatile, powerful 20-year-old, whose grandmother is from Dublin, “will arrive at Connacht with a reputation as one of the brightest young prospects in South African rugby,” a statement from the western province reads.

Bolton can play in the center or back three, and has most recently impressed in the Varsity Cup with the University of Free State [UFS] Shimlas.

He has also caught the eye in the U21 SA Championship, and been part of the Cheetahs’ recent training squad following a hugely successful underage career, during which he played for the Blue Bulls Country Districts.

“A powerful and skillful ball carrier, his ability to play centre and anywhere across the back three will be a major boost to Andy Friend’s side heading into next season,” the statement continues.

“After we learned of Shayne’s availability and his Irish ancestry, we kept an eye on his progression and did some further work to confirm his playing ability,” Friend said.

“It quickly became apparent that he was the type of player that could add real value to our squad. He has been turning heads in South Africa with his recent performances and, while he’s still only 20 years of age, he has all the attributes to become a top-class professional player.

“Players with versatility are a key component we look for in our Squad mix, and Shayne fits that category perfectly. He started off at fullback and on the wing before moving to centre in the last year or two, so we’re looking forward to his arrival and seeing how best to integrate him into the squad.”

And Bolton says that Connacht is the perfect place to begin his professional career.

“After numerous chats with Andy and Tim (Allnutt) I knew this was an opportunity I had to take. They spoke about how they pride themselves in developing players and I immediately felt that Connacht was the right place to take my game to the next level.

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“I can’t wait to reconnect with my Irish roots and get ready for the season ahead.”

Further announcements on Connacht’s recruitment for 2021/22 will be made in due course.


About the author:

Emma Duffy

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