Former Irish prop Nathan White has been added to the Connacht coaching ticket for the remainder of the season.
The 35-year old, who was forced to retire earlier in this campaign following a concussion injury which kept him out of action since last March, is to join Pat Lam’s management team.
Connacht Eagles coach and former Munster player Mossy Lawler, who is the elite player development officer at the Sportsground, is also to step in and help fill the gap left by the departure this weekend of skills coach Dave Ellis.
Ellis, who joined Connacht with Lam three and a half years ago, is returning to New Zealand to take up a post with the Auckland Blues and Lawler and White will help fill the void along with Lam, backs coach Conor McPhillips and forwards coach Jimmy Duffy.
“At the moment we are just working within,” said Lam when asked about a replacement for Ellis, who will leave after this weekend’s game against Munster at the Sportsground.
“Nathan White has been helping us out, Mossy Lawler has been helping out as well. And obviously Jimmy, Conor and myself, so there are five of us.
“Whitey has been good, particularly with the RTPs (return to play). Whitey has been in there a bit when he has been injured. Whitey has the ambition to do coaching as well. So this is a good step for him.”
The primary concern for Lam and his men this week is getting a decent side on the field when they entertain leaders Munster at the Sportsground on Saturday. Lam had just 26 players available for training at the Sportsground yesterday, 10 backs and 16 forwards, including academy players.
The injury crisis may abate before the weekend with Lam hopeful that a scan on an ankle injury picked up by Irish lock Ultan Dillane will not show anything serious, while captain John Muldoon is also expected to recover from a thigh injury.
The biggest area of concern is in the front row with Irish lock Finlay Bealham, who can play both sides, going through the return to play protocol after picking up a head injury in the 23-7 loss away to Ulster at the weekend.
Lam said that they were looking at a number of options, including prop John Andress, who announced his retirement from the game just a few weeks ago having not played for Munster since joining them during the summer.
At present Denis Buckley and JP Cooney are Connacht’s only fit props with hooker Tom McCartney only available to cover loosehead if he starts on the bench.
Ronan Loughney, who can also play both sides, is out for another six weeks while tighthead Conor Carey, one of the finds of the season, will be sidelined until March with a foot injury picked up against Wasps.
Lam also confirmed that he considered his own son Mitch as possible cover for their backs but that it was not possible because he is not Irish qualified.
Mitch Lam played for Galwegians this season, trained with Connacht for a time and more recently spent a month on loan with Ian Costello’s Nottingham.
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