Connacht hooker Dave Heffernan has extended his contract while the province have signed new prop Conor Carey.%u200B
Mayo-born Heffernan is a graduate of the Connacht Academy and made his senior debut in March 2012 against the Scarlets shortly before he made a switch from the back to front row and progressed to the senior squad for the 2013/14 season.
He was part of the Emerging Ireland squad for last year’s tour to Tbilisi having played internationally at U20 level. The 25-year-old made his 50th appearance last week in the bonus-point win over Edinburgh and has featured in 18 games so far this season.
Heffernan will be familiar with incoming tighthead prop Carey whom he played with at Ireland U20 level in 2011.
24-year-old Carey from Belfast is currently playing with English Championship side Nottingham where he has been for the past two seasons having spent a year at Ealing Trailfinders. The former Methodist College Belfast student spent three years in the Ulster Rugby system and represented Ulster and Ireland at U18, U19 and U20 level.
Commenting on the latest recruitment news, Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said: “The retention of a young indigenous player in Dave (Heffernan) and the signing of talented Irish prop Conor (Carey) is very pleasing as we build our squad for next season.
“Recruitment and retention is ongoing and as our squad continues to evolve, we intend to have more announcements in the coming weeks.”
Pat Lam, head coach, added: “We identified Conor Carey as a young and talented tighthead prop who could thrive here at the Sportsground. He has a gained lot of experience in the Championship which is a tough competition for forwards but he’s coming back to Ireland and we’re looking forward to him adding more competition to our front row options.
“Dave (Heffernan) has had another season of huge growth, particularly coming off the back of his involvement with the Emerging Ireland tour. The time he puts into working on and improving his game is impressive and as coaches we’re delighted to have him commit his future to his home province.”
Dave Heffernan said: “It’s a really exciting time to be playing at Connacht and as someone from here, I’m delighted to be playing my part into the future. It’s my third season with the
senior squad and I’m getting good game time under my belt now and really enjoying my rugby. It was a nice achievement to get my 50th cap last week and even better to mark it with a good win for the team.”
Conor Carey said: “Having spoken to Pat (Lam) and the management team at Connacht, I’m really excited about moving back to Ireland and playing with a team that have had been really impressive in what they have done over the past few seasons on and off the pitch. Connacht have some quality props in their squad, including an Irish international tighthead in Nathan White, so I’m really looking forward to working with them as well as the coaches.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Nottingham and would like to thank all the coaches I’ve worked with, particularly Martin Haag and Neil Fowkes who I’ve learnt a great deal from. I’m looking forward to finishing out the season strongly with the team.”