Connacht Rugby has continued to build out its squad for the coming season, with multiple signing announcements in recent days.
In the past four days the club has announced the addition of New Zealand’s Shamus Hurley-Langton, Byron Ralston from Australia, as well as Leinster’s David Hawkshaw.
Byron Ralston is a former Australia U20 International, who joins Connacht from Western Force, where he has 14 Super Rugby appearance and scored five tries.
Prior to the Force’s move to Super Rugby he was also in brilliant form for the club in the National Rugby Championship, scoring seven tries in eight games as he helped them to win the 2019 Grand Final.
Ralston said that moving to Connacht is a “brilliant opportunity” for him, and that the province’s style of play “will suit me down to the ground”.
He was also excited about reconnecting with his Irish roots, saying that he’s well aware of the positive experiences that other Aussies have had after moving to Connacht.
Head Coach Andy Friend said that the 21 year old is a player of “great versatility” who will have the opportunity to continue his development with Connacht.
The 22 year old David Hawkshaw is making the move out west following eight appearances with Leinster, and an excellent international performance.
Hawkshaw was captain of the Ireland U20s who won a Grand Slam in the 2019 Six Nations, playing alongside his future teammates Niall Murray, Colm Reilly and Dylan Tierney-Martin.
He says that he “needs to start getting games under my belt” to improve his experience with the game.
“The chance to play with Connacht Rugby and to hopefully put my hand up for selection on a more consistent basis is all that I want and the rest is up to me.”
Andy Friend said that Hawkshaw showed his “leadership attributes” during his time captaining Ireland’s U20 team, and that he promises to be another exciting player for the province.
“He’s still young so will have the platform at Connacht to show what he can do, whether that be as an out-half or inside centre.”
Shamus Hurley-Langton has already earned significant acclaim in his two years with the Manawatu Turbos in New Zealand.
The 21 year old was has made 18 appearances for Manawatu across the Mitre 10 Cup and NPC in the last two years.
He earned significant plaudits for his performances with the New Zealand outfit and was named Rookie of the Year for 2020.
Friend said that Hurley-Langton is “extremely powerful” and opens up new options for the back row in the coming season.
For his part, Shamus said that he’s excited to move to Connacht after conversations with Andy and the coaching team.
“Connacht play a very attractive brand of rugby and the idea of relocating to the West of Ireland was one that appealed to me.”