Veteran Swift stays at Connacht

Date published: April 29 2014

Veteran lock Michael Swift and flanker Mata Fifita have both signed contract year-long extensions with Connacht and the IRFU.

Veteran lock Michael Swift and flanker Mata Fifita have both signed contract year-long extensions with Connacht and the IRFU.

Michael Swift has chalked up an impressive 262 caps for the province and also holds the Celtic League record with 180 appearances.

The 2014/15 campaign will be his fifteenth season with Connacht. The Westerners' longest-serving player turns 37 next October.

At the end of last season, Swift was presented with the PRO12 Chairman's award in recognition of his outstanding service to both his province and the league as a whole.

As one of three club captains for the current season, the 6ft 5in, 120kg second row shows no sign of slowing down, playing in 16 league and five Heineken Cup games so far this year.

“'Swifty' continues to defy the years and prove himself as a true Connacht man.,” said head coach Pat Lam.

“His work ethic, passion and commitment to Connacht is inspirational to the management, players, sponsors and supporters.

“When myself and Dan (McFarland) sat down with him recently, it was evident how much he wants this contract.

“He is still so hungry to play and we know that he will continue to push hard in training and fight for a place while also leading the squad. Swifty is, and always will be, a fantastic ambassador for the province.”

“I'm delighted to have another year of rugby with Connacht to look forward to. Every year there are progressive changes happening at the Sportsground,” said Swift.

“I think there is something special happening here at the moment so I just want to be part of it for as long as possible. I'm excited about finishing off this current season on a high and being part of another Connacht squad going forward.”

Also lining at the Sportsground next season will be back rower Mata Fifita. This will be his third year with Connacht – the 25-year-old Tongan native was selected from Ulster Bank League club Sligo in 2011.

Despite some season-disrupting injuries, Fifita has played 15 times for Connacht, including three Heineken Cup appearances, and has also had a significant involvement with the Connacht Eagles in the British & Irish Cup.

He came to Sligo at the beginning of the 2008 season when he played in the back-row. He was soon tried in the centre – a transition he made with ease.

With Connacht last season, the versatile player was brought on from the bench to cover the back-row and he has continued to use his strength and power to good effect in the pack this year.