Tom McCartney steps closer to representing Ireland by signing new Connacht deal

Tom McCartney scores a try against Treviso earlier this month
Tom McCartney signed for Connacht from Auckland Blues in 2014

New Zealand-born hooker Tom McCartney has taken another step towards representing Ireland after signing a new three-year deal with Connacht.

McCartney, 31, will become Irish-qualified in November 2017.

The hooker joined Connacht from Auckland Blues in 2014 and played a key role in last season's remarkable Pro12 title triumph.

"I'm delighted to sign on for another three years with Connacht Rugby," said the New Zealand native.

"I came here excited to be able to help the province achieve its vision of success and I believe we have the structures in place to see us continue to go from strength to strength."

McCartney's decision to commit his next three years to Connacht is a boost for the Irish province following coach Pat Lam's surprise announcement earlier this month that he will leave to take over at Bristol at the end of this season.

Connacht's star centre Bundee Aki, who is also a New Zealander, signed a contract extension earlier this season which will keep him at the Irish province until 2020 and he will become Irish-qualified next October.

The Irish province's chief executive Willie Ruane described McCartney's new deal as a "hugely positive move for Connacht rugby".

"He is an important member of the squad and very popular among our supporters. We are thrilled that he sees his future with Connacht," added Ruane.

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