Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht have already begun preparations to try to defend their title with changes both in the squad and behind the scenes.
Conor McPhillips will move into the role of backs coach having worked as assistant attack coach last season, replacing Andre Bell who has returned home to New Zealand to join his family.
A former Connacht player, McPhillips returned to the province in 2010, initially as head of performance analysis.
Head coach Pat Lam said: “I’d firstly like to thank Andre (Bell) for all his hard work and dedication to the team over the past two years. Andre spent many hours working with our young back line and gave them the confidence and skills to execute our game plan effectively.
“We all wish him well as he returns home to New Zealand to be with his family and we have no doubt he will add value to whatever group of players he works with in the future.
“I’m delighted that Conor has agreed to step into a fulltime coaching role after doubling up as the Head Performance Analyst and Assistant Attack Coach for last season.
“Conor is hugely passionate about Connacht and has given many years of service – first as a player, then an analyst and now a coach. He has an impressive rugby brain with an eye for the fine detail that makes a big difference.
“I have every confidence that he will build on the good work that Andre has done and take it to another level necessary for next season.”
Elsewhere four players have signed new contracts with the team, with JP Cooney, Shane O’Leary and Danny Qualter extending their deals while Rory Moloney has been promoted from the Connacht Academy.
Lam added: “While recruitment is ongoing, I have always said that retention is a very important part of what we do. It is vital that we hold on to young players like these who have demonstrated that they have the talent and the desire to succeed in a professional set-up.”
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