With a lifetime of coaching experience in New Zealand, the former All Black joins Connacht from the Chiefs, where he currently works as Assistant Coach to Dave Rennie. With Keane heading up Attack, the Super Rugby side scored an impressive 76 tries in 17 games during the 2016 campaign.
Keane, a former school teacher, also had a spell as Assistant Coach to Jamie Joseph at the Highlanders from 2011 to 2012 but it was in his role as Head Coach of the Tasman Makos that the man, more commonly known as KK, made his greatest mark.
During his tenure with the Makos, Keane led the team to an ITM Cup Championship victory and promotion into the Premiership in 2013. The following year, he took them to the premiership final, which they ultimately lost to Taranaki. As well as shaping their attacking style of rugby, Keane helped promote more than 15 players to Super Rugby during his time with the province.
Keane coached the New Zealand U-16 and U-17 age grade sides for seven years as well as the Marlborough and Hawkes Bay NPC sides. A centre in his youth, he played six times for the All Blacks in 1979, represented Canterbury for 10 seasons and played for New Zealand Universities.
Welcoming the announcement, Connacht CEO Willie Ruane said:
“Following a rigorous process, we are delighted to be able to confirm the appointment of Kieran as our new Head Coach.
“Kieran’s rugby CV speaks for itself and immediately highlighted to us that he was the perfect fit for Connacht Rugby in the context of the profile of coach that we were looking for.
“Kieran is a highly experienced Head Coach with a winning track record and a proven ability in identifying talent and maximising the full potential of that talent. His ambitious and exciting brand of rugby is also consistent with the way Connacht Rugby and in particular our players want to continue to play the game into the future.
“Kieran’s time at Tasman also highlights the connection that his teams have with the community they represent, and that is something he clearly sees in Connacht as well.
"Kieran was immediately able to identify with our vision of ‘Grassroots to Green Shirts’, further highlighting to us that he was the right man for the job.
“Everyone at Connacht Rugby is extremely excited about the future and Kieran’s appointment is key to helping us achieve the level of sustained and consistent success that we are all working towards. Before he starts, there is a lot of rugby to be played and I know Pat and the team are fully focused on delivering a really strong finish to the current season”.
Commenting on his appointment Keane said:
“During my recent trip to the West of Ireland, I had the chance to meet many people within Connacht Rugby and I was immediately taken by the genuine passion they have for the people they represent and the ambition they have to achieve so much more.
“It was clear very early on in our discussions that Connacht Rugby was a good fit for me and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead and to working with the players and everyone associated with the club.”