Connacht safeguard local talent and tie up contracts for five youngsters

Sean O'Brien, James Connolly, Peter Robb, Caolin Blade and Ivan Soroka all sign deals with Pat Lam's side


Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne 

Connacht are looking to safeguard homegrown talent within the province and have moved to shore up the contracts of five up-and-coming players in their team.

The Irish province lost a host of big names over the summer including AJ MacGinty and Robbie Henshaw. Only last week did reports emerge that Munster were looking to swoop for duo Bundee Aki and Ultan Dillane.

Sean O'Brien, James Connolly, Peter Robb and Caolin Blade - all academy graduates - have had their contracts to 2018. The quartet have been making the transition to the province's first team in recent weeks. 

Ivan Soroka has also accepted a professional contract for the year having been on trial for the summer. The 22-year-old Ukranian prop joins from Clontarf RFC.

"I have always said that retention is a very important part of what we do," Pat Lam said in a statement. "It is vital that we hold on to young players like these who have come through our Academy to the senior set up and demonstrated that they have the talent and the right attitude to perform on and off the pitch.

"These four young men certainly showed their potential by playing a big part in the success of last season

"Ivan (Soroka) has also been offered a contract for the season. Like Niyi (Adeolokun) a few years ago, we gave him a chance to come straight in from club rugby on a trial and he has shown that he has the potential and drive to succeed in a professional set up. It's a great opportunity for him."

CEO Willie Ruane added: "This is a hugely positive move for Connacht Rugby and the squad we are looking to build for the future. Obviously Connacht-born players like Sean (O'Brien) and Caolin (Blade) are a big part of our vision of Grassroots to Green Shirts. Having also come through the Academy, we are very happy with the progression of Peter (Robb) and James (Connolly) to the senior squad this season and feel that they will continue to contribute positively to the team and environment here."

Player Information

Sean O'Brien
Back Row/Lock
Age: 21
From: Galway
Connacht caps: 20

James Connolly
Back Row
Age: 23
From: Kildare
Connacht caps: 20

Peter Robb
Age: 22
From: Dublin
Connacht caps: 19

Caolin Blade
Age: 22
From: Galway
Connacht caps: 24

Ivan Soroka
Age 22
From: Kiev, Ukraine
Connacht caps: 0