Connacht sign Fiji back row Naulia Dawai on a two-year contract

Naulia Dawai in action for Otago against Northland earlier this year
Naulia Dawai has won three caps for Fiji

Connacht have signed Fiji back row forward Naulia Dawai on a two-year deal.

Dawai, 29, made his Fiji debut in June and has spent his last three seasons playing for New Zealand club Otago in the National Provincial Championship.

Connacht coach Pat Lam described Dawai as "an exciting addition" to his squad.

"He can play across the back row, which is a great boost to our options and will also provide depth and competition in those positions," Lam said.

Lam added that Otago coach Cory Brown had spoken highly of Dawai's "work ethic and ability on and off the field".

"We were really impressed with the rugby Naulia's been playing in the NPC and also with the Fiji national side during the summer," the Connacht coach said.

According to Lam, Dawai will move to Galway with his family "in the next few weeks" and the Fijian said that he was "extremely excited" to agree the deal.

Kieran Marmion sustained a calf injury in the win over Edinburgh two weeks ago
Kieran Marmion could return to the Connacht squad for Saturday's European opener against Toulouse

"It will be my first time in Ireland, and indeed Europe, but it's a challenge I am really looking forward to," said Dawai, who has been capped three times.

"From speaking to Pat and watching the Connacht games, I am excited by the type of rugby being played and I hope I can come over and add something as well."

Meanwhile, Connacht will be without Ireland wing Matt Healy and front rows Denis Buckley and Tom McCartney until the end of November.

Healy will be also be ruled out of Ireland's autumn internationals because of a hand injury, while McCartney has a hamstring problem and Buckley is troubled by a knee ailment.

On the plus side, Ireland scrum-half Kieran Marmion is one of a number of players on the mend before Saturday's European Champions Cup opener against Toulouse in Galway.

Marmion is set to resume training this week while Quinn Roux (concussion), Sean O'Brien (ankle), Peter Robb (hip), Eoin Griffin (hamstring) and Rory Parata (knee) could all feature at the weekend after missing the win over Ulster.

In addition, Eoin McKeon is said to be "recovering well" from the chest injury he sustained in last weekend's game.

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