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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

Saints Eye Another Fijian Star

Fresh after announcing the arrival of Sam Matavesi Northampton Saints are set to land another Fijian ace according to reports

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Northampton Saints look set to sign Fijian front-rower Eroni Mawi according to RugbyPass.

The Premiership side confirmed the signing of his international teammate Sam Matavesi and now appear close to agreeing the signing of the 23-year-old loosehead. 

Mawi was a part of the Flying Fijian squad that played in the Rugby World Cup this year and was a part of the squads that played against Australia, Uruguay and Wales, part of his 14 caps to date. 

The English side have been able to add players to their squad in the middle of the season due to the retirements of both club captain Dylan Hartley and Heinrich Brussow with a major space in the salary cap opening up with their departures. 

If Mawi becomes a Saints player he will have to fight for his place in the side with captain Alex Waller currently occupying the loosehead position in the squad, with back-up from both Francois van Wyk and Toby Trinder. 

Having been available since the end of the World Cup Mawi has been playing in Australia for the Fijian Drua outfit and this would be a big step-up for the youngster. 

It would also add to Northampton’s Fijian presence in their pack with Api Ratuniyarawa already in the squad. 

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Premiership

Bristol Star Signs Contract Extension

Last week Bristol secured the services of one of the world’s most exciting players and today they have confirmed that one of their key men will be staying on too

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Bristol Bears have confirmed that ace back-liner Charles Piutau has signed a new contract extension with the Premiership club.

The deal sees him extend his stay with the club until at least 2022, which is an exciting prospect for fans who have seen him dominate the league over the past year, scoring six tries in eleven appearances for the Bears last season. 

However, he is only getting better it seems having already made a total of 551 metres in five games and beating 24 defenders in that time, both chart-topping stats. 

The news follows last weeks’ announcement that Fijian star Semi Radradra will join the club next season and the thought of the two linking up will have fans watering at the mouth. 

Speaking on the extension Piutau has admitted that he had no hesitation to put pen to paper as he is loving life in Bristol. 

“My family and I are loving our time in Bristol and it was an easy decision to stay. There’s a brilliant environment and a group of boys who are all giving everything for the jersey and the community. It’s always an honour to play alongside my brother (Siale Piutau) and to represent the Bears in front of the awesome fans at Ashton Gate. Pat Lam has been a massive influence on my career and I’m loving my rugby here. There’s a collective belief that we can win silverware if we continue to keep moving forward and I’m excited about the future at Bristol,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the club’s director of rugby Pat Lam is delighted to have the 28-year-old continue on and is impressed with how he has taken to life in Bristol. 

“Charles is an outstanding team man and a world-class talent. He has the ability to create opportunities out of nothing for the team, so we are delighted that he has committed to the Bears and our vision. What has been most pleasing is how enthusiastic Charles is about the Bears, his team-mates and the city. He applied for, and was appointed to, the role of community leader in the player leadership group this season, which underlines how much he cares about the community,” he said. 

While fans may be excited for the next couple of years, Lam couldn’t hide his own excitement at the combinations of players that Bristol will have come next season. 

“On the field, Charles brings an invaluable attacking threat, but also a calm head and a wealth of experience. His game understanding and leadership at the back brings a lot of comfort to his team-mates and it has allowed a lot of the young players around him to flourish. To be able to select a Bristol backline next season that will combine world-class talents such as Charles Piutau, Semi Radradra and Luke Morahan alongside a host of young, English talent shows the exciting direction and growth that we are showing as a team,” he added. 

It is a major boost for the Bears who have started this season well and are building towards something special come next season.

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Premiership

Launchbury Signs Contract Extension with Wasps

England international Joe Launchbury is set to continue his career with Wasps despite interest from elsewhere

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England international second-row Joe Launchbury has put pen to paper on a contract extension with Wasps despite having interest elsewhere.

The club’s captain since 2016, Launchbury has been with the Premiership side since 2009 and has made well over 100 appearances since his debut in 2011 and is delighted to continue his career with the club, and hopes they will be competing for titles soon. 

“Wasps have been great to me and I will forever have an association with the club. There have been some special moments during the past ten years and I want to create more of those over the coming seasons. We have a good young squad and we’re now starting to see young players coming through the system which a crucial cog in any elite club.  With a fantastic home ground at Ricoh Arena and our own high-performance training base being built, the future certainly looks very bright. Hopefully as a club we keep developing and growing more and more Premiership-class players, and compete for silverware moving forward,” he said. 

There were reports that several clubs were looking into the possibility of signing the England ace including reports of a move to fellow Premiership outfit Sale Sharks.

Having signed up to the club once again, Wasps director of rugby Dai Young complimented Launchbury’s loyalty to the team. 

“Joe has been a tremendous servant to the club and we’re thrilled he has agreed to sign a new deal. He is a born leader, who adds a lot to this team. Having someone of his ilk pledging their future to the club is a real statement of intent,” he said. 

Launchbury has picked up more than 60-caps for England and was part of Eddie Jones recent Rugby World Cup squad in Japan, and at 28 it looks as though he has plenty still to offer to both club and country of the next few years. 

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