Connacht have boosted their ranks with the signing of hooker Tom McCartney from Super Rugby side the Blues.
New Zealand-born McCartney will move to Galway next season and has made 64 appearances for the Blues since making his debut against the Chiefs in 2008.
The 28-year-old can play both hooker and prop. Last season, he played in the number 1 jersey in the absence of All Black Tony Woodcock, but moved back to hooker with the Blues this year.
McCartney previously played under current Connacht boss Pat Lam when he was head coach of the provincial side Auckland, Lam giving his first start in 2007 – the same year the team went on to win the National Provincial Championship.
Following on from the recent significant signing of Waikato Chiefs centre Bundee Aki, Lam said of his latest recruit: "We're delighted to be in a position to announce Tom for next season. Hooker was a key area that we had to target for recruitment.
"I have worked with Tom at both Auckland and the Blues in New Zealand and he is an excellent team man who was a key member of our leadership group.
"This type of versatility is invaluable for the squad going forward" - Pat Lam
"Securing Tom was high on our priority list and the coaching staff are excited about bringing in such an experienced hooker who has also proven skillful at loosehead prop where he played for the Blues and Auckland Rugby.
"With the unfortunate loss of Brett Wilkinson due to injury, this type of versatility is invaluable for the squad going forward."
McCartney will move to Connacht at the conclusion of the New Zealand ITM Cup season.
McCartney said he was excited about his impending move to Ireland.
"I believe Galway is a fantastic city and both myself and my fiancée Taryn, whose grandfather is from County Cork, are really looking forward to settling in over there," said McCartney.
"I've been with the Blues and Auckland Rugby for over seven years now and enjoyed every minute. But this move is a fantastic opportunity and the challenge I've been looking for."