Munster and Connacht fighting to sign Bristol Bears back

Bristol Bears’ out-of-favour centre Piers O’Conor looks set to move to the United Rugby Championship next season a pair of the Irish provinces are interested in his services.

RugbyPass report Munster are keen on a move for O’Conor to replace another former Bristol centre Antoine Frisch, while RugbyInsideLine report Connacht are winning the race to his signature where he would link up with former Bears favorite Joe Joyce.

READ MORE: Bristol Bears Players' Player of Year to depart at the end of the season

O’Conor is still just 27-years-old and has made more than 120 appearances for the Bears since he joined the club from Ealing Trailfinders in 2018. The former Wasps back, who can play in either centre position, on the wing or full-back and when Bristol finished top of the Gallagher Premiership in 2020/21 he was named in the league’s official Dream Team of the Season as well as picking up a player of the month award. O'Conor is qualified to play international rugby for Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and England and has played for Ireland at U19s level and England at U20s level and in 2019 got a call-up to play for the England senior team against the Barbarians in an uncapped match at Twickenham.

But O’Conor’s playing minutes have dramatically fallen this season after Bears director of rugby Pat Lam moved to sign a pair of unexpected free agents in the summer by picking up French international Virimi Vakatawa and Benhard Janse vans Rensburg. Vakatawa was out of work after Racing 92 released him from his contract over a heart issue but after an independent board of cardiologists passed him fit to play and this weekend the Fijian-born powerhouse is set to make his 23rd appearance for Bristol. South African Janse vans Rensburg, who was nominated for the Gallagher Premiership player of the month award for March, was signed on a multi-year deal after his former club London Irish went into administration and has grown into one of the most important players t the club.

So despite having sparkled alongside Semi Radradra, Lam looks to have moved on from O’Conor with his departure from Ashton Gate seemingly imminent having last run out in a friendly away at Bedford Blues during the Six Nations period.