Connacht complete signing of Irish-qualified centre from Premiership outfit

Adam Kyriacou
Bristol Bears centre Piers O'Conor.

Bristol Bears centre Piers O'Conor.

Connacht have announced the signing of versatile back Piers O’Conor, who will join the United Rugby Championship outfit from Bristol Bears ahead of next season.

The 28-year-old, who is equally at home at centre, full-back or wing, is set to end a six-year spell at the Bears, where he has amassed 137 appearances and 36 tries to date.

O’Conor has been a vital cog in a successful period for Bristol, which included a Challenge Cup winner’s medal in 2020, but has recently struggled to receive game time.

Irish-qualified

Predominantly a centre, O’Conor is Irish-qualified through his grandfather, with roots in Roscommon as well as Dublin, and is looking forward to his upcoming move.

“I’m really excited to be taking the next steps of my career at Connacht,” he said, admitting talks with Connacht head coach Pete Wilkins helped him make his decision.

“After chatting to Pete and the wider team I was really impressed by their plans, and the role I could play in the squad going forward.

“My first experience of Dexcom Stadium was during COVID when no fans were allowed in, but after coming back in January, I was blown away by their passion and the deep connection they seem to have with the squad, so I can’t wait to represent them and the wider province from next season.

“I know there are exciting plans for the stadium as well, so I’m looking forward to seeing that come to life too.”

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Wilkins said: “We’re thrilled to be welcoming Piers to Connacht Rugby from next season. He’s an outstanding player with a wealth of experience in the Premiership and European rugby, and his versatility will perfectly complement our existing options across the outside backs.

“I’m sure he’ll receive a warm welcome from the players and supporters when he joins us in time for pre-season in the summer.”

O’Conor’s current boss, Pat Lam, was equally complimentary of the player and wished him well with the move to Connacht, where he expected him to be a fan favourite.

“Piers has been a fantastic servant to this club, with more than 100 appearances and countless important performances during his six years with us. His journey from the Championship to being a Bears centurion shows how hard he has worked and developed,” he said.

Wished the best

“I have no doubt that his dedication and work ethic will soon make him a fan favourite in the West of Ireland and we wish him and his partner Hannah all the best for their next chapter with another great club in Connacht.”

O’Conor added: “I’ve absolutely loved my time with Bristol Bears and have made some friends for life here. From winning the Challenge Cup to finishing top of the Premiership, I’ll take some very fond memories with me into the next chapter of my career.

“I leave the Bears programme a better player and will always be proud of the contribution I’ve made.”

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