Connacht close in on new head coach
Connacht are close to finalising a deal for their next head coach and he is a familiar face.
SportsJOE understands that Clermont Auvergne assistant coach Jono Gibbes is the frontrunner to replace Pat Lam at The Sportsground this summer.
Lam's departure to Aviva Premiership side Bristol was announced in December and the province's Professional Game Board has been quick to sound out potential successors.
Gibbes is currently working under Franck Azéma at Clermont and contracted up until June 2018 but would be allowed to depart if a head coach position took his fancy.
Irish rugby supporters will be well aware of Gibbes as he served as Leinster's forwards coach from 2008 to 2014. During that time, Leinster won three league titles and three Heineken Cups.
The Kiwi, who played Super Rugby with the Chiefs and lined out for the All Blacks and New Zealand Maoris, was in the running for the head coach job at Leinster before Matt O'Connor's arrival.
He moved to France and his work with Clermont has been lauded. He has taken on more coaching responsibilities in recent years and now feels he is ready for a greater challenge.
Gibbes worked under Ireland coach Joe Schmidt at Leinster for three seasons and has stayed in contact with him since 2013 and Schmidt's elevation to the national team.
Former Connacht player, and current Grenoble coach, Bernard Jackman expressed an interest in the Connacht job last month.
Connacht forwards coach Jimmy Duffy has ruled out of a move for the top job but, we understand, Gibbes is the man Connacht want.
SportsJOE contacted Connacht Rugby for a comment but none was forthcoming at time of publication.
Click play [below] to check out an excellent episode of The Hard Yards rugby podcast, featuring Ronan O'Gara, Paddy Wallace, Kevin McLaughlin and SportsJOE's Pat McCarry chatting with host Andy McGeady.
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