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Dublin: 13 °C Saturday 1 November, 2014

Connacht sign Leinster ‘A’ captain Gilsenan on loan to cover Heenan injury

Head coach Pat Lam says short-term switches such as this one are great for Irish rugby.

Gilsenan scores a try for Leinster 'A'.
Gilsenan scores a try for Leinster 'A'.
Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

CONNACHT HAVE DRAFTED in Leinster ‘A’ captain Conor Gilsenan on loan until the end of the season after their back row casualty list got worse.

Former New Zealand under-20s skipper Jake Heenan, who has had an excellent debut season, has been ruled out for the rest of the campaign.

He will undergo surgery this week on a troublesome shoulder injury which will keep him out of action until next season.

Connacht coach Pat Lam yesterday said that Heenan, who will be 22 on St Patrick’s Day, had played more than intended but a long-term injury to Willie Faloon had presented more opportunities.

Heenan, who hopes to become Irish qualified in two years, has played in twelve RaboDirect Pro12 encounters as well as all six Heineken Cup games for Connacht this season.

Jake injured his shoulder just after Christmas and was told that at some stage he was going to have to have surgery. We want to make sure he is ready for next season as well so the timing of it and when surgery was available was key to it,” said Lam.

Connacht approached Leinster with a view towards Gilsenan coming on loan to the end of the season and Lam said he was delighted that an agreement was reached.

“Loaning of players is very common in New Zealand as the focus there is to ensure that there’s an opportunity for young talent to come through for the All Blacks so it’s great to see it happening for the Irish team as well.

“Conor is a promising player who has been identified at an early age by the Irish system and hopefully he can earn some valuable game time and a first start in the PRO12,” added Lam.

Gilsensan, a former winning Junior and Senior Cup-winning captain with Clongowes Wood College, has played at U18, U19 and U20 levels for Ireland.

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