New Zealander Pat Lam is expected to be unveiled as Connacht’s new head coach this week.
It’s understood the 44-year-old has accepted a two-year deal to succeed Eric Elwood who leaves at the end of this season.
The announcement will end ends months of speculation, heightened recently with former Ospreys’ coach Sean Holley admitting to turning down the post. Earlier this week Connacht CEO Tom Sears slammed those who had failed to keep the appointment process confidential, saying it was disrespectful to the province.
Lam’s appointment ensures all four provinces will be coached by New Zealanders for the first time and he will become the third Kiwi to take charge of Connacht after Warren Gatland and Glenn Ross in the 1990s.
Lam was one of six candidates interviewed for the post, including Holley, Alex King, who announced his move from Clermont to Northampton, current Connacht assistants Dan McFarland and Billy Millard, and former Sale and Wasps coach Tony Hanks.
As a player Lam was a talented backrow forward who had stints with Newcastle and led Northampton to Heineken Cup victory in 2000. He moved into coaching his native Auckland and the Super 15 side Auckland Blues for nine years, but lost his job last year to former All Black John Kirwan after a poor season in which the Blues managed just four wins from 16 games.
Since then Lam was recruited by Samoa as a technical advisor for the three-test match tour against Canada, Wales and France, with the Pacific Islanders once again overcoming Wales.
He will take charge of a Connacht side that Sears has pledged to boost with top class internationals next season.
Yesterday the province announced new contracts for No 8 George Naoupu, hooker Jason Harris-wright, lock Mick Kearney and talented home-grown player Eoin McKeon.