Connacht Announce Signings Of Aussie 7s Superstar & New Zealand Number Eight

Double signing.

Connacht Rugby have today announced the signings of Australian 7s player Ben O’Donnell and Bay of Plenty Number 8 Abraham Papali’i. The pair will link up with the squad before the start of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season.

Ben O’Donnell joins from the Australian Sevens programme, having played 95 matches for his country since he was handed his debut in 2017 under Andy Friend.

The 24-year old went on to score 47 tries in that time and has been a key figure in their progression through the World Rugby Seven Series over the past three seasons.

O’Donnell was voted Australian Sevens Player of the year in 2018 and subsequently went on to be the first Australian player ever nominated for the World Sevens Player of the Year.

New Zealander Abraham Papali’i arrives from Bay of Plenty where he was a key member of the squad that won the Mitre 10 Cup Championship last year. The Auckland-born duel code player started his Rugby Union career with North Harbour before being recruited into the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pathway.

In 2015 Papali’i signed a two-year contract with the Sydney Roosters of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).

Following his time with the Roosters, Papali’i joined Lézignan Sangliers in the premier French Rugby League competition before the 6’4” number 8 returned to New Zealand and successfully restarted his Rugby Union career with Bay of Plenty.

Head Coach Andy Friend says today’s announcement is a significant boost ahead of the return to rugby.

“I am delighted to welcome Ben and Abraham to Connacht Rugby,” Friend said.

I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.

“Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.”