Connacht Rugby’s new front row forward Tom McCartney was at the open training session at Buccaneers RFC in Athlone last week – 10 days after his arrival in Ireland. The New Zealander who signed from Super Rugby side the Blues talked about his reasons for moving to the other side of the world and what excites him about the challenge ahead.

Now facing into round 8 of the GUINNESS PRO12, McCartney is likely to kick start his official three-year stint at Connacht with an involvement in this week’s game against Italian side Zebre (Friday, 7:35pm).

Highly rated for his impressive strength and work ethic as well as the core skills of throwing, tackling and carrying, the 29-year-old, who weighs in at 110kg, has the ability to play both hooker and prop. In 2013 with the Blues, he played in the number 1 jersey in the absence of All Black Tony Woodcock, but transitioned back to hooker last season.

Prior to his arrival in Galway, McCartney played in his eighth and final ITM Cup campaign in which he was asked to captain the provincial side. The departing skipper was then presented with the prestigious Sir Fred Allen Supreme Award for the player who epitomises the qualities and values of Auckland Rugby to the highest standard and his overall commitment to his club, province and Super Rugby team over the past eight years.

McCartney first debuted for provincial side Auckland in 2007 when he was given his first start by then Head Coach Pat Lam, the same year the team went on to win the National Provincial Championship. McCartney said “I’ve obviously worked under Pat before and I really enjoy his coaching philosophy. He gave me my first start for Auckland back in 2007 and really, I owe a lot of my career achievements to him from those early days.”

The Connacht team to face Zebre will be named on Thursday at noon.

Connacht v Zebre
Friday 21st November
The Sportsground
Kick off 7:35pm
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

Tickets are selling fast but there are some remaining for the Main, Enclosed and new Seated Stand. Starting at just €20 for adults, tickets are available from, Centra & SuperValu stores province-wide or from the Connacht Rugby office at the Sportsground.


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