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Confirmed by Leinster. Sean O’Brien to join London Irish

Leinster have confirmed the news.

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Ireland and Leinster back row Sean O’Brien is set to join London Irish after the World Cup this year.

Leinster today confirmed that the 31-year-old O’Brien will move to Declan Kidney’s side later on this year. O’Brien is currently on a central IRFU contract.

O’Brien turns 32-years-old later this month and is now entering the latter stages of his career. As a result, the union were unwilling to hand him a new long-term deal.

London Irish are believed to have made Leinster an offer of around
€ 400 000 per season which is similar to what he currently gets.

Reports state that O’Brien’s current status will not have any impact upon his status as part of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad which will participate at the World Cup.

Previously O’Brien has been part of two British and Lions tours. These came in 2013 and 2017 and he started all three Tests against New Zealand during the latter trip.

Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie this morning, Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen said,

“Seán has been a key driver of Leinster Rugby’s success over the last ten years and played a pivotal role in our four Heineken Cup-winning seasons.

“He has not only been a world class player on the field, but has also made an incredible impact in growing the game all over the province. He has also been a model professional and a shining example to our young and Academy players.

“As a teammate, Seán was the sort of competitor you always wanted beside you. He is the kind of player who gives you the confidence that anything is possible – nothing fazes him and he always led from the front.

“Everyone at Leinster wishes only the very best for Seánie in his future as he embarks on a new challenge. We will all miss him greatly, but his legacy here will live on as he has influenced so many of us in such a positive way.

“For now, we hope to finish this season strongly and, after his disappointment of missing out on a number of big games last season through injury, we hope Seán can play a major part in Leinster’s push for silverware in two competitions this season.”

For his part O’Brien said, “This is one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I have played all my rugby in Ireland.

“With Tullow, with Leinster and with Ireland and to move from the place I call home and that I love so much, was not easy.

“That being said, I feel that the time has come to explore other opportunities, to challenge myself at a new environment, in a new city, with a new club and against different players and teams on a weekly basis. London Irish and what they are about is a club that I feel I can grow with and also contribute to and I feel that they have a set up and an ethos that will make me feel at home.

“For me and the time I have left here in Ireland, I want to stay fit and healthy and finish out the season with a strong Six Nations with Ireland and then turn my attention to Leinster and hopefully a seat on the plane to Japan.

“Thanks to my family, friends and my girlfriend Sarah for their unbelievable support in making this decision and of course the fans for all the support I’ve received over the past 13 years. I am looking forward to representing Leinster and Ireland as best as I can over the next nine months.”

London Irish really are making waves in the transfer market!

They’ve already snapped up fellow British Lion Alan Dell and Wallabies Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona.  They’ve also secured the services of Ian Keatley until the end of the season and have been heavily linked with Paddy Jackson ahead of their predicted return to the Gallagher Premiership next season.

Premiership

Bath Set to Land Fijian Star

Bath look set to make a mid-season swoop for a Fijian international to help bolster their team

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Bath are reportedly set to sign Fijian back Josh Matavesi from Newcastle Falcons to help cover their growing concerns in the centre.

The 29-year-old has been with the Falcons since 2017 following a move from the Ospreys, but while the club look set for an immediate return to the Premiership after their relegation, Bath appear ready to give him a fast-track back to the top. 

It is believed that Bath are searching for cover for Jonathan Joseph, who is currently sidelined through injury, however, he is expected to be called up to Eddie Jones’ England squad upon his return. 

While fellow centre Jamie Roberts is reportedly on the verge of sealing a move to Super Rugby outfit the Stormers

They do have centre Jackson Willison back from injury, but they feel like Matavesi will bring quality and experience to the midfield. 

Matavesi has 24-caps to his name for Fiji, but called time on his test career following their poor showing at the Rugby World Cup last year, where they failed to progress from the pool stages. 

It would be a big boost for Bath if they can seal the deal as he can also cover the fly-half position. What remains to be seen is if the deal goes through whether or not it will be a deal until the end of the season or beyond, with the Fijian thought to be looking for a move to Super Rugby in the future.

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Premiership

Harlequins Tie Down Key Man

Harlequins have confirmed that one of their most important players has signed a new contract extension amid rumours regarding an exit

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Harlequins have confirmed that star back-rower Alex Dombrandt has committed his future to the Premiership side amid rumours of an exit.

The explosive forward has been at the club for two seasons and has impressed ever since going on to score 16 tries in only 37 games and he is looking forward to what the future holds in a Quins jersey. 

“I am really excited to have committed my future to Quins; a club that I have loved as both a fan and a player over the years. I am excited by the direction the Club is going in and having Gussy, the coaches and great players in place there is no reason why we can’t be moving on up. Coming up to this level naturally was a huge step up for me but after two great years here I feel I have developed so much. I want to keep on this journey, hopefully help this great club and continue by working with some amazing people in such an impressive, fun and professional environment,” he said. 

The 22-year-old represented Wales at U20 level, but he has since gone on to play for England against the Barbarians and was also a part of Eddie Jones’ training camps in the lead-up to last year’s Rugby World Cup

Speaking on his extension Quins’ head of rugby Paul Gustard heaped praise on the youngster and is excited about what he can develop into.

“Dommers has developed from a kid with outstanding potential at University, into a first team player in his time at Harlequins. He is without doubt a special player who has exceptional talent and his commitment to the Club is strong affirmation of the progress we are making. He is a brilliant kid who is popular amongst the staff and the playing group and is part of a strong spine of young English talent that we want to drive our club forward as we look to compete regularly for silverware. He is still developing as a player and is humble enough to acknowledge areas of his game he wants to work on, which is a credit to him as he strives to maximise his skill and achieve international recognition. We want to create a positive environment for all our players to learn and grow and help them achieve individually and collectively, and we are delighted Dom sees the same potential and belief in us, as we do in him. Alex has done, and will continue to, play a significant and vital part in our future success and his re-signing is great news for everyone at Harlequins,” he said. 

Having won both the Fan’s Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year last season he is a clear favourite among those involved with the club and it is a massive boost for the team as they bid to improve in the Premiership.

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Premiership

Northampton Set to Lose Key Player

Northampton Saints have confirmed that one of their key men come the end of the current season

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Northampton Saints have confirmed that star scrum-half Cobus Reinach will depart Franklin’s Gardens come the end of the current season.

Reinach has been at the Premiership club since 2017, following a move from Super Rugby outfit the Sharks and has been a fan favourite in England since. 

The 29-year-old was thankful for everything that the club have done for him since his arrival and admitted he will find it hard to say goodbye. 

“I love playing for Saints and living in Northamptonshire. We have a fantastic group of coaches and staff and an exciting squad that I believe can challenge for the major honours, so this has not been an easy decision for me to make. I’d like to thank everyone for making the last three seasons so memorable; I’ll be sad to leave some great friends and team-mate. Saints will always have a special place in my heart and I look forward to giving everything I’ve got to make sure we finish the season with some silverware,” he said on his departure.

During his time with the Saints he has scored 29 tries in 70 appearances, and his rich vein of form saw him earn a recall to the South African national team and was part of the squad that went on to lift the Rugby World Cup title last year. 

There is no doubt that he will be missed and director of rugby Chris Boyd is upset to see him go but knows that Reinach has made his decision for the right reasons. 

 “While we’re disappointed to lose a player of Cobus’ quality, we respect that in the final years of his professional career he’s made a decision with the long-term future of his family in mind. Saints supporters love watching him play; he has provided them with plenty of memorable moments here at Franklin’s Gardens. I’ve been delighted with the form of Henry Taylor since his arrival at the start of the season, and with the emergence of Connor Tupai from our academy set-up this year – plus getting Alex Mitchell back from injury in the coming weeks will feel like a new signing for us. Cobus is putting all his focus and energy into ensuring that Northampton have as much success as possible for the second half of the season, and we will wish him well after that,” he said. 

It remains to be seen where Reinach will head come the end of the season, but it is assumed that he could make a return to South Africa

Before then however Northampton have a game against Lyon in the Champions Cup this weekend as they look to secure a place in the knock-out stages, and then they return to Premiership action where they are looking to build on a positive start to the season.

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