Pat Lam has been appointed as the new Connacht head coach and will replace outgoing Eric Elwood who will leave the Westerners at the end of the current season.

Former All Black and Samoa captain Lam has accepted a two-year contract with the option to extend for a further period.

The 44-year-old represented New Zealand in a tour match before going on to captain the Samoans in a playing career which included spells with Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints, where he lifted the Heineken Cup.

"I'm looking forward to working with good people to build on the great work that Eric has done" - Lam

His coaching career includes a successful spell at Auckland in the New Zealand Provincial Championship from 2005-9 where he won the title in 2005 and 2007 before he went on to head up the Auckland Blues in the Super 15.

Under Lam the Blues achieved their best finish for several years in 2011 reaching the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual winners the Queensland Reds.

He has also been involved at international level as a consultant to both Scotland and Samoa, most recently on the Pacific Islanders highly successful northern hemisphere tour late last year when they claimed the scalps of both Wales and Canada which saw them make the top eight of the IRB World Rankings.

Lam said:"My family and I are truly blessed to have another opportunity to be part of a new community and country and we are looking forward to the exciting challenge ahead at Connacht.

"I was very impressed by the board's vision for Connacht Rugby and the fighting spirit of the team and supporters to persevere against all the odds. I'm looking forward to working with good people to build on the great work that Eric has done."

Lam will take up the role of head coach in June as Elwood will remain in the position for the remainder of the 2012/13 season.