Veteran lock Michael Swift and flanker Mata Fifita have both signed contract extensions with Connacht Rugby and the IRFU that will see them play another year at the Sportsground.

The longest serving player for Connacht, Swift has chalked up an impressive 262 caps for the Irish club and also holds the Celtic League record with 180 appearances. This will be his fifteenth season with the province.

At the end of last season, he was presented with the RaboDirect PRO12 Chairman’s Award in recognition of his outstanding service to both his province and the tournament as a whole.

As one of three club captains for 2013 /14, the 6’5”, 120kg second row shows no sign of slowing down, playing in 16 PRO12 and 5 Heineken Cup games this season.

Commenting on his club captain, Head Coach Pat Lam said:

“Swifty continues to defy the years and prove himself as a true Connacht man. His work ethic, passion and commitment to Connacht Rugby is inspirational to the management, players, sponsors and supporters.

“When myself and Dan (McFarland) sat down with him recently, it was evident how much he wants this contract. He is still so hungry to play and we know that he will continue to push hard in training and fight for a place while also leading the squad.

“Swifty is, and always will be, a fantastic ambassador for this club.”

Swift added: “I’m delighted to have another year of rugby with Connacht to look forward to. Every year there are progressive changes happening at the club. I think there is something special happening here at the moment so I just want to be part of it for as long as possible. I’m excited about finishing off this current season on a high and being part of another Connacht squad going forward.

Also playing at the Sportsground next season will be backrow forward Mata Fifita. This will be the third Connacht season for the 25-year-old Tongan who was picked straight from AIL club side Sligo RFC in 2011.

Despite some season-disrupting injuries, Fifita has played fifteen games for Connacht, including three Heineken Cup appearances, and also had a significant involvement with the Eagles’ side in both season’s British & Irish Cup.

Fifita came to Sligo at the beginning of the 2008 season when he played in the back row. He was soon tried in the centre – a transition he made with ease. With Connacht last season, the versatile player was brought on from the bench to cover the back row where he continues to show his strength and power today.

 

Michael Swift

DOB: 18th October 1977

Birthplace: Hammersmith, England

Height: 1.96m (6’5”)

Weight: 120 kg (18 st 12 lb)

Position: Lock

Club Captain 2012/13 and 2013/14

14 seasons with Connacht

262 Connacht caps

180 league appearances

75 ERC appearances

Played 21 games this season (out of 26)

 

Mata Fifita

DOB: 18th August 1988

Birthplace: Tonga

Height: 1.88m (6’2”)

Weight:110kg (17st 4lb)

Position: Back row

2 seasons with Connacht

16 Connacht caps

12 league appearances

4 ERC appearances

 

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