Connacht to divvy up role of skills coach Dave Ellis

Connacht will divvy up the role of skills coach Dave Ellis among the existing management until a replacement is found.

Ellis is returning home to New Zealand to take up a coaching job with Auckland Blues after three and a half seasons at the Sportsground in Galway.

Ellis announced in October that he was cutting short his contract after being offered a skills coach position with the Blues and will not be with Connacht for the second half of the season.

He is the second member of the coaching team which delivered the PRO12 title for Connacht to depart, with backs coach Andre Bell also returning to New Zealand in the summer.

And with Pat Lam also cutting short his stay to join Bristol in the summer, it means that forwards coach Jimmy Duffy, who only took over from Dan McFarland in the summer of 2015, will be Connacht’s most experienced coach at the end of the campaign.

Former Connacht scrum-half Conor McPhillips stepped up from performance analyst to replace Bell as backs coach during the summer, and Lam said the Ellis job will be shared by the existing coaches until a replacement can be found.

“We want to make sure we have got to replace, and when we replace, that it’s the right person, that’s key,” said Lam.

“At the moment we have been planning that between myself, Jimmy and Conor we can cover a bit of it at the moment.”

And while the search for Lam’s successor is the top priority at the Sportsground, action on the field in the coming month remains key as the Guinness PRO12 champions try to deal with a crippling injury crisis which sees 22 players on the casualty list.

Lam will deliver a squad update today following an anxious wait to see if Finlay Bealham, Danie Poolman, Niyi Adeolokun, Ultan Dillane and skipper John Muldoon recover from injuries picked up during the 23-7 loss away to Ulster last Friday evening in Belfast.

Connacht host Munster on Saturday.


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