In his third season with Connacht Rugby, tighthead prop Nathan White has agreed terms on a new two-year deal that will see him play at the Sportsground until at least the summer of 2017.
33-year-old White is qualified to play for Ireland and was involved with the international squad in November but was unfortunate to miss out on a first cap after injuring his elbow in training. After 10 weeks of rehab, the New Zealander is now fit and available for Connacht’s upcoming Challenge Cup game with La Rochelle on Saturday.
Known for his scrummaging and leadership skills on and off the park, the dynamic front row has become an integral part of the Connacht Rugby set up. At 6'2 and 122kg, the former Waikato captain has played 45 times for Connacht.
Galway born Ronan Loughney also put pen to paper this week on a new deal with his native province.
The 30-year-old has focused his attention on the loosehead position this season and has featured in 11 out of 18 games for the club.
He earned his first cap for Connacht in 2005 and has made an impressive 156 appearances over the years. Having represented Ireland at Youths, U19’s and U21 level, Loughney earned his first international cap in the opening test of Ireland’s 2012 summer tour to New Zealand
Australian-born prop Finlay Bealham, whose grandmother is from Enniskillen, spent two years in the Connacht Academy before graduating to the senior squad last year. The front row forward who has played on both sides of the scrum, came to Ireland in 2010 and went on to represent Ireland U20’s in the 2011 Six Nations Championship and the U20 World Championship, earning four caps in all.
The 24-year-old, who has been signed as a tighthead prop, has played in 10 games this season, bringing his total tally to 16 appearances.
Commenting on the latest deals, Connacht CEO Willie Ruane said:
“By retaining these players, we are building real depth in our squad in what is a vital and highly skilled position. All three have been recognised at different levels for Ireland and they add a mixture of experience and youth that characterises our squad.”
Head Coach Pat Lam added:
“From a rugby perspective, having quality props and depth in your front row is vital for any squad. To secure the services of these three Irish qualified players as well as Denis (Buckley) and Rodney (Ah You) is fantastic. Both Nathan (White) and Ronan (Loughney) bring huge experience to the role. They are both key members of our leadership group and do a lot of work behind the scenes in terms of driving standards across the squad. As well as that, their knowledge helps us to bring through the next crop of props through our academy structures and both Denis (Buckley) and Finlay (Bealham) are an example of that. Finlay is someone who has made huge gains over the last two seasons as a tighthead and a prospect whom we are all really exciting about.”
Nathan White said:
“It’s great to have the next two seasons sorted and I’m delighted to have signed with Connacht. The three seasons here has really flown by. My young family are well settled in Galway and I’m really enjoying it myself, both personally and professionally.
“It was tough being out injured for the last two months but I’ve worked really hard to come back fully fit and I can’t wait to get back playing again.“