Tuesday 16 January 2018

Botha stays at Munster while McFarland leaves Lam


Springbok BJ Botha has signed a six-month contract extension at Munster, writes Des Berry.

Tight-head Botha, 35, will stay on during the World Cup window to provide experience and strength in an area where Munster are struggling badly to unearth homegrown players with Stephen Archer unable to break into the Ireland squad.

"After working closely with the IRFU, we have thankfully secured the services of a player of his caliber," said coach Anthony Foley.

"He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the scrum and front row.

"It is a huge boost to the squad to have him available during the World Cup window when our squad numbers will be reduced."

Twenty-four year-old hooker Niall Scannell, the former Ireland U20 captain, will move up to his first full contract in what has been a slow transition into the professional game.

Another hooker Kevin O'Byrne, 23, has signed a one-year development contract to keep him at the province to the summer of 2016.

These are moves taken by Foley to compensate for the retirement of Damien Varley and the current long-term injury to Mike Sherry.

Out West, assistant coach Dan McFarland will leave Connacht after 15 years at the province.

"This has been a very difficult decision for me," he said.

"Connacht Rugby has been such a large part of my life for a long time.

"But, I feel the time has come to explore new avenues and different challenges.

"I am extremely grateful to so many people for the opportunities I have been given here; it has been an honour to work with so many committed and talented players.

"My family and I have had a wonderful 15 years in Connacht. It is our home and we will greatly miss the place and the people."


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