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Connacht tie down "top shelf bloke" Finlay Bealham to new deal

Connacht head coach Andy Friend says it's "really, really pleasing" to be keeping hold of Finlay ...

Connacht head coach Andy Friend says it's "really, really pleasing" to be keeping hold of Finlay Bealham for another two years.

The tighthead has signed a new two-year contract to keep him at the Sportsground until at least the summer of 2024.

Bealham's now a ten-year veteran of the Connacht camp, and an 18-cap Ireland international.

His contract extension follows similar signed by Jack Carty, Oisín Dowling and Jack Aungier.

“I’m buzzing to be able to sign on with Connacht Rugby for two more seasons," said the Canberra-born prop, "I moved to Galway as a teenager and it quickly became my home.

"Connacht have given me every opportunity to play at the highest level and we are continuing to evolve and grow in the West.

"Representing Connacht and Ireland is always an honour and is where my heart is."

Bealham won his most recent Ireland cap as a replacement for Tadhg Furlong in November's victory over the All Blacks at the Aviva.

His Connacht head coach Andy Friend greeted the contract extension with great enthusiasm, saying, "Your tighthead prop is the foundation of your scrum and one of the heartbeats of your team, so to have a top shelf bloke and an International prop like Finlay agreeing to stay with us for another 2 seasons is really really pleasing.

"He knows Connacht inside out having worked his way through our ranks from our Academy, and he epitomises what hard work and self-belief can achieve.

"He’s also a huge personality and is very popular with the players, staff and supporters alike.

"We’re all looking forward to seeing him wear the green of Connacht and hopefully Ireland for many years ahead.”

However, Connacht are set to lose another player to the French Top 14.

It's reported that no.8 Abraham Papali'i will follow Sammy Arnold to Brive in the summer.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Ultan Dillane will leave the province at the end of this season, with La Rochelle his most likely destination.

Brive are coached by former Ireland international Jeremy Davidson.

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Andy Friend Connacht Finlay Bealham Ultan Dillane