Connacht Rugby have this afternoon confirmed that Frank Murphy, Miah Nikora and Ronan Loughney have all agreed new two year contract extensions. The three players come hot on the heels of the news that prop Jamie Hagan has re-signed, along with the re-introduction of George Naoupu at the end of the season.
Frank Murphy, who has captained Connacht on a number of occasions, is a former UCC captain who made 15 appearances for Munster before moving to the Leicester Tigers in 2006 where he was part of the Guinness Premiership winning side of 2006/07. Frank made 27 appearances for the English side, 8 in the Heineken Cup (including the final in 2007). He joined Connacht for the start of the 2008/09 season and to date has made 60 appearances scoring 20 points. The 29 year old scrum-half from Crosshaven, Co. Cork has penned a contract that will see him play at The Sportsground until 2013, “It’s great being part of such a dedicated and hard-working squad and management and being part of Connacht for the next 2 years means a lot to me”
Miah Nikora, a former New Zealand Schools, under-19 and under-21 international, joined Connacht at the start of last season from ITM Cup side Tasman. He quickly established himself as a fans favourite in The Sportsground with match winning kicks against both Bourgoin in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final and against Edinburgh in the Magners League. To date, Miah has played 33 times for Connacht scoring 78 points and looks set to add to his tally with this 2 year extension. “I’m delighted to be able to commit to Connacht for the next 2 years” said Nikora, “I’ve really settled in here, and so have my family. There’s a great work ethic in the squad and the coaching staff provide a dynamic environment in which to work in.”
Ronan Loughney is a homegrown graduate of the Connacht Academy graduating to the senior squad in 2005. The 6’1”, 112kg prop has been a regular member of the Connacht matchday squad making 69 appearances to date and scoring a try against Ulster in the final game of last season. Loughney is a fluent Irish speaker and regularly features on Radio na Ghaeltacht and TG4. “Working under Eric (Elwood) and Dan (McFarland) has been very exciting and I am honoured to be a part of this squad for the next 2 years. The attitude amongst the squad is fantastic and we all believe that the team is going places. Growing up in Galway it was always my ambition to play rugby for Connacht and the last 5 years have been superb so to be involved for at least another 2 is a huge bonus and I look forward to developing my abilities even further. ”
Head Coach Eric Elwood described the signings as “significant” adding “re-signing Loughs, Murphy and Miah is a big step in building our squad for next season. They play in crucial positions and knowing that we have that stability and maturity in these crucial roles gives us a huge amount of confidence going forward”