Plymouth Albion sign former Exeter Chiefs back-row forward Eoghan Grace
PLYMOUTH Albion have signed former Exeter Chiefs back-row forward Eoghan Grace from Irish side Connacht for the 2013/14 campaign.
The 25-year-old has agreed to join Albion despite not knowing who their director of rugby will be next term, following Nat Saumi's announcement last weekend that he will be leaving at the end of this season to return home to Fiji.
Saumi, though, hopes Tipperary-born Grace, who can also play in the second-row, will be a good addition whoever takes over from him in the Albion hot-seat.
"This is a good signing for the club," said Saumi. "He has been playing in Connacht, who play in the RaboDirect Pro12 and also the Heineken Cup. He also had a season at Exeter, so he has experience of being at a Premiership club.
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"Hopefully, he will do well for the club."
Grace, whose wife is originally from Ivybridge, spent the 2010/11 season at Exeter, having joined them from Munster's academy, but his spell at Sandy Park was hampered by a serious Achilles injury.
The pacey 6ft 2in forward managed just one LV=Cup replacement appearance for the Chiefs before returning to Ireland.
Grace, who has been capped by Ireland at sevens and under-20 level, has spent the last two seasons at Connacht, but has found starts hard to come by.
He managed three in his first campaign, but this year has been restricted to five replacement appearances – three in the Pro12 league and two in the Heineken Cup, including 25 minutes against Harlequins.
After just three starts in three years for top flight clubs, Grace will be hungry to get some regular rugby under his belt in the Championship.
He does know a number of the current Albion squad from his time at Exeter, where he trained alongside Jack Andrew, Herbie Stupple, Lloyd Fairbrother and Jon Vickers.
Grace is Albion's first new signing for next season, while fellow back-rowers Sean-Michael Stephen and Herbie Stupple signed new deals at Brickfields in November.
The Irishman's arrival, though, casts doubt over the futures of the club's other back-row/second-row players.