Sears, who heads a four-man interview committee charged with employing the new head coach, says it is important to “keep the integrity of the process intact”.
He said: “Right from the outset, we said we would respect the confidentiality of the process, and it’s unfortunate that other people haven’t.”
Speculation has been rife recently with Sean Holley admitting to turning down an offer, while Pat Lam has now emerged as the most likely candidate, following with Alex King’s move from
Clermont to Northampton.
“I am frustrated by people not
respecting the confidentiality. I think it lacks respect and I think certain people have lacked respect for Connacht rugby in the way they have gone out in the media,” says Sears.
“If someone wants to go to the press bleating about why didn’t they get the job, why didn’t they get an interview, that’s their issue, but for the respect of the position and the integrity of the process, that’s what we are going to stick to. I am probably old fashioned, but I think any recruitment process would be completely confidential.”
Sears added: also maintained that Connacht had gone about the process the right way, including keeping players in the loop.
“Everyone has an opinion, that’s what is great about sport. You will never stop that, but I disagree with what has been written, I believe we have done the process the right way, and I think if people had respected the confidentiality of the process, we would not have had an issue. “We are at an advanced stage, we are not ruling anything out at the moment. We said we would make an appointment by the end of January and I am confident we will do that.”
Sears said the issue of the new coach had not hindered Connacht’s
“We are being aggressive and ambitious in the recruitment process both in Ireland and overseas as well. We are looking to retain our own players and bring top classes internationals in next season — including a replacement for Mike McCarthy.”
It has been tweeted that South African lock Andries Bekker has been approached by an Irish province, in addition to several French and English clubs, while No 8 George Naoupu, hooker Jason Harris-Wright, lock Mick Kearney and another talented home-grown player Eoin McKkeon are expected to finalise their new contracts this week.
Naoupu and Kieran Marmion are two players who remain doubtful for Saturday’s Heineken Cup fixture against English champions Harlequins.
Naoupu was stretchered off in from the field in last weekend’s Pro 12 win over the Dragons with a suspected neck injury, and although cleared by medics, coach Eric Elwood said the No 8 continues to be monitored ahead of the trip to Connacht’s visit to The Stoop.
Scrum-half Kieran Marmion, who also suffered a dead leg, will be assessed today, while Dave McSharry and Michael Swift who missed were also missing from yesterday’s training yesterday session with knocks are expected to be fully fit. Flanker Johnny O’Connor is back in the squad and is available for selection having missed last week’s fixture.
Quotes if needed: Elwood says Connacht are heading to London in the right frame of mind, having halted a run of four losses in the Rabo with a comfortable 30-11 win over Dragons last Saturday.
“We are going back into Europe again and with the victory last weekend the lads are in a good space. We are going there with a win under our belt after a couple of near losses. Everybody is mustard keen and looking forward to it,” Elwood says.
Although the two sides have met each other on several occasions, in the Amlin and traditional pre-season friendlies, Connacht cut their teeth in the Heineken Cup in last year’s opening fixture against Quins at The Stoop, which the hosts won 25 — 17, denying the Irish province a bonus point late in the game.
” We were hanging onto a bonus point there last year, but there was scrum pen and another penalty, and if you don’t hold not the ball and you don’t have good discipline, a team like Harlequins and a player like Nick Evans will punish you. That killed us. When you work so hard, two late kicks and you lose a bonus point.”
“However it was our first venture into the Heineken and we have gained from that experience. We will have an element of respect from Conor [O’Shea} and John [Kingston] and the lads, but we are under no illusions. They have blitzed everyone in Europe this year.”