Connacht Rugby have completed the signing of Samoa international James So’oialo.
The utility back, the younger brother of former All Black Rodney So’oialo and ex-Harlequins scrumhalf Stephen So’oialo, joins from Wellington Norths on a two-year deal.
The 24-year-old was part of Samoa’s 2011 World Cup squad and has been included in their party for the upcoming tour to South Africa.
“James is a superb utility back who can play all positions but halfback,” Connacht’s new head coach Pat Lam said today. “He can kick goals from up to 60 metres out and I’m sure with the Galway wind, we will see him kick from even further out. To have someone in our squad with so much versatility and who can kick goals from that distance is a real weapon in our armoury.
“James will join us for the pre-season straight from his summer duties with Samoa and I’m looking forward to catching up with him then.”
Leinster’s Amlin Challenge Cup win against Stade Francais last Friday means Connacht can look forward to a third consecutive season in the Heineken Cup and Lam is “very excited” by the prospect.
“We will be competing in the Heineken Cup again next season and that is fantastic,” he said. “We have seen the positive impact the competition has had on the community over the last two years. To be playing against the best teams in the most elite rugby competition is where we want to be and this is how we grow and build on the work that has been done over the last number of years.
“Personally, I loved being part of the Heineken Cup as a player and I am now very excited about my involvement as a coach for the first time.”
With the addition of So’oialo, Connacht have now filled “all their non-Irish eligible positions and have a full quota of special project players with the recent signing of Jake Heenan”, according to chief executive Tom Sears.
“We are very excited about the quality and potential of the players we have been able to add to the squad and, with the prospect of another season of Heineken Cup rugby to look forward to, next season promises to be a hugely exciting one.”
Incoming Players 2013/14
Hooker: Sean Henry; James Rael; Dave Heffernan (Connacht Academy)
Secondrow: Craig Clarke, Aly Muldowney; Danny Qualter (Connacht Academy)
Backrow: Jake Heenan; Aaron Conneely (Connacht Academy)
Outhalf: Craig Ronaldson
Wing: Fionn Carr
Utility Back: James So’oialo