Former Ireland captain Michael Bradley has been appointed coach of Connacht.
Bradley coached the Ireland under-21 side this season
Bradley, currently a staff coach with the IRFU, takes
over from Steph Nel, who is to return to his native South Africa after three years in charge of the province.
It is believed that Nel will be released from his contract which has another year to run.
Over the past three seasons, Nel carried on the good work started by Warren Gatland in the late Nineties.
Connacht made a name in the European Shield and reached the Celtic League semi-final last season.
However, there were doubts over whether Nel would stay following talk of an impending departure of some of the more promising players in the province.
Already, forwards Ronan McCormack and Rowan Frost have signed for Ulster.
Bradley, however, is seen as an Ireland coach of the future, and someone who could further enhance the status of Connacht who are seen as a development province.
Bradley won 40 caps as an industrious scrum-half in the Eighties.
Formerly coach to his home club Cork Constitution, the Munsterman had a successful debut season with the Ireland under-21 side, as they won three of their four games.