Jake Heenan: Connacht sign ex-New Zealand U20 captain

Jake Heenan

Connacht have signed former New Zealand Under-20 captain Jake Heenan on a three-year contract.

The openside flanker will provide cover in a position vacated by veteran Irish international Johnny O'Connor, who retired at the end of the season.

Heenan, 20, captained New Zealand when they finished runners-up to South Africa in the 2012 Junior World Championship last summer.

He has been signed from Auckland Blues development squad by new coach Pat Lam.

"I came across Jake when he was 17 years old," said Lam.

"He played for the Blues Under-18 team when they won the national competition and, even then, I could see what a natural leader and genuine team player he was.

"He brought those leadership skills, as well as his physicality, to the World Championship last summer with the Baby Blacks.

"Jake is highly regarded back in New Zealand and it is a real coup for Connacht to catch him. I'm very much looking forward to working with him when he arrives here in early July."

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