Connacht sign USA out-half AJ MacGinty for remainder of season

Connacht have signed USA international out-half AJ MacGinty for the remainder of the 2015/16 season.

The 25-year-old Dubliner started three of the Eagles’ pool B fixtures in the Rugby World Cup, kicking 25 points.

He moved to New York to study in 2012 and became eligible for the USA earlier this year, making his debut against Samoa in the Pacific Nations Cup

Connacht coach Pat Lam confirmed the province had been monitoring the former Blackrock man’s progress for some time.

“As a young Irish player playing abroad, AJ has been on our radar for quite some time now and we have been watching his games closely since he first played in the PNC during the summer. His performances in the Rugby World Cup were impressive.

“AJ adds to our options at out-half and we expect him to bring with him his experience of playing at the highest level.”

Meanwhile, Leinster Forwards Coach Kurt McQuilkin admitted a sense of déjà vu as he reflected on defeats for the province against Scarlets and Ireland against Argentina.

“After watching our game on the Saturday morning, and having to watch that match on Sunday, [it] was like déjà vu. It was tough watching it, and my heart goes out to the Irish coaching team in those terms,” McQuilkin remarked.

“With regards to having to watch it, and having to endure that, and trying to get a fix in as quick as possible. But no, it was pretty much a carbon copy of us on the Friday night against the Scarlets.”

McQuilkin, who previously worked at Leinster under current Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, had earlier spoken about the importance of delivering big hits when you are under pressure in defence, feeling this was missing during the early stages of both games.

“You’re looking for a strong character to make a statement early on. You want some individual to step up and make a statement with a big hit. Without a doubt, you’re looking for a leader to step up and make a mark for someone.”

“If that big hit isn’t coming, you then soak for long periods. That hinders your line speed, and it’s something that happened to us early on in the game against the Scarlets. We didn’t really recover.”

Following Isaac Boss’ addition to the squad as scrum-half cover, the number of Leinster players in the Irish World Cup camp had risen to 19.

While McQuilkin didn’t provide a precise time-frame for the return of the Blues’ front-line international players, he did suggest that they would be integrated back into the set-up within the next ten days.

“They [Irish players] will probably get integrated over this coming week. Medically, they will all have to go get checked out and we’ll take guidance from the IRFU as to what they need to do. I guess over the next week-to-10 days, they will be integrated back in. We’ll take it from there,” McQuilkin added.

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