Connacht coach Andy Friend hopes to extend contract

“I’m having some really positive conversations with the CEO Willie Ruane at the moment"
Connacht coach Andy Friend hopes to extend contract

Connacht's head coach Andy Friend

Connacht coach Andy Friend is hopeful of signing a new contract which will keep him at the Sportsground beyond his three-year deal which ends next summer.

The Australian has been a huge success since arriving in Galway to take over from Kieran Keane, who was let go after a season in charge.

“I’m having some really positive conversations with the CEO Willie Ruane at the moment so all I can say is that it is really positive. We love it here, my wife and I are very comfortable here so, hopefully, some positive news will come in the not too distant future,” said Friend.

The development will be welcome news to Connacht supporters, not least as almost half the squad is out of contract at the end of this season and there were fears that the much-travelled Friend may be about to return to Australia.

Meanwhile, centre Sammy Arnold has been ruled out of action until April after undergoing surgery on a chest muscle injury.

The 24-year old has been ever-present for Connacht since his summer move from Munster and will be a big loss to Friend as the province pushes for Champions Cup qualification and also keep their slim PRO14 hopes alive.

Arnold has started ten games and come off the bench in another and scored tries against Edinburgh and Zebre during an excellent maiden season at the Sportsground.

Bundee Aki is unlikely to feature in Sunday’s re-arranged PRIO14 clash against Ospreys at the Sportsground as he continues to recover from a knee injury but Friend said he would not be risked and he’s confident he will be fit for the Six Nations. Peter Robb, out with a groin injury since October in the only game he’s played this season, could return to give options in the centre, while full-back Tiernan O’Halloran continues his recovery from a thigh injury.

Former Aussie sevens player Ben O’Donnell and back rower Sean O’Brien are following the return to play protocols after suffering knocks against Munster.

Meanwhile, lock Ultan Dillane said he is looking forward to working with Paul O’Connell in Irish camp if he is selected.

“It’s very exciting. He’s a player I would have looked up to growing up and when I started rugby. And it would be a very good experience to train and play under him,” said the 27-year who won the last of his 17 caps against France in October.

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