So'oialo completes Connacht squad

Mon, 20 May 2013 18:38
Large jamesso oialoportrait1 Large jamesso oialosamoatraining Large jamesso oialoportrait2

Samoan international James So'oialo will join Connacht from Wellington Norths on a two-year deal.

Samoan international James So'oialo will join Connacht from Wellington Norths on a two-year deal.

The 24-year-old, who played in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, was recently named in the Samoan squad for the upcoming tour to South Africa, where they will face Scotland, Italy and the Golden Lions.

The utility back is the younger brother of former All Black No.8 Rodney So'oialo and former Harlequins scrumhalf Stephen So'oialo.

Incoming head coach Pat Lam, who has worked with So'oialo in Samoa, said: "James is a superb utility back who can play all positions but scrumhalf. He can kick goals from up to 60 metres out and I'm sure with the Galway wind, we will see him kick from even further out.

"To have someone in our squad with so much versatility and who can kick goals from that distance is a real weapon in our armoury.

"James will join us for the pre-season straight from his duties with Samoa and I'm looking forward to catching up with him then."

Following Leinster's European Challenge Cup win at the weekend, Connacht have secured a place in the European Cup for a third consecutive year.

"We will be competing in the European Cup again next season and that is fantastic. We have seen the positive impact the competition has had on the community over the last two years", said Lam.

"To be playing against the best teams in the most elite rugby competition is where we want to be and this is how we grow and build on the work that has been done over the last number of years.

"Personally, I loved being part of the European Cup as a player and I am now very excited about my involvement as a coach for the first time."

Chief Executive Tom Sears said: "James is an international class player and someone Pat knows very well and has coached previously. From the outset Pat was very keen to get James to Connacht and identified him as a player who could be a real asset to us, so we are delighted that we have been able to bring him in.

"We have now filled all our non-Irish eligible positions and have a full quota of special project players with the recent signing of Jake Heenan. We are very excited about the quality and potential of the players we have been able to add to the squad and with the prospect of another season of European Cup rugby to look forward to next season promises to be a hugely exciting one."

Incoming Players 2013/14:
Hooker: Sean Henry; James Rael; Dave Heffernan (Connacht Academy)
Second Row: Craig Clarke, Aly Muldowney; Danny Qualter (Connacht Academy)
Back Row: Jake Heenan; Aaron Conneely (Connacht Academy)
Flyhalf: Craig Ronaldson
Wing: Fionn Carr
Utility Back: James So'oialo

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