Ireland prop Finlay Bealham says Connacht is "where his heart is" after signing a contract extension with the club.

The 30-year-old tighthead will stay with the Westerners until the end of the 2023/24 season at least.

"I'm buzzing to be able to sign on with Connacht Rugby for two more seasons," said Bealham, who has won 18 Ireland caps.

"I moved to Galway as a teenager and it quickly became my home.

"Connacht have given me every opportunity to play at the highest level and we are continuing to evolve and grow in the West.

"Representing Connacht and Ireland is always an honour and is where my heart is."

The Canberra native has had a 10-year association with the province, first moving to the West in 2011 to join the Connacht Sub-Academy.

He made his senior debut in February 2014 and signed his first professional contract in the summer of that year.

A starter for Connacht in the 2016 Pro12 final win over Leinster, Bealham has so far made 167 appearances for the club.

Bealham (18) celebrates with Bundee Aki when Ireland beat New Zealand

He has scored two tries and played in Ireland's wins over New Zealand both in Chicago in 2016, and more recently at the Aviva Stadium last month.

His extension is a further boost for the club, with new contracts for Jack Carty, Oisín Dowling and Jack Aungier already confirmed and more to be announced in the weeks ahead.

Head coach Andy Friend added: "Your tighthead prop is the foundation of your scrum and one of the heartbeats of your team, so to have a top shelf bloke and an international prop like Finlay agreeing to stay with us for another two seasons is really pleasing.

"He knows Connacht inside out having worked his way through our ranks from our Academy, and he epitomises what hard work and self-belief can achieve.

"He’s also a huge personality and is very popular with the players, staff and supporters alike. We’re all looking forward to seeing him wear the green of Connacht and hopefully Ireland for many years ahead."

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