Tuesday 17 October 2017

Botha on the move south as Warwick leaves Munster

ON the day Munster confirmed Paul Warwick's departure at the end of the season, it has emerged that Ulster tight-head BJ Botha could be in line for a move south, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.

The South African, acknowledged as one of the foremost scrummagers in the game, is out of contract -- believed to worth £270,000 (€320,000) per annum -- following the 2009/10 campaign and would be a prized signing for any of Europe's major clubs.

Sources in Ulster indicate that the province would be prepared to let the 30-year-old leave in favour of a major signing in another position and that Leinster and Munster are both in the mix for his signature.

If Botha leaves, Tom Court could switch from loose-head to tight-head prop, where he started for Ireland against New Zealand last month, with Ulster's other Irish-qualified props Declan Fitzpatrick, Paddy McAllister and Bryan Young contesting the No 1 jersey.

While that would be good news for Ireland coach Declan Kidney, if Botha were to join Leinster it would be a considerable threat to the in-form Mike Ross, who could then consider a move elsewhere, possibly even a return to Munster.

Munster have Ireland tight-heads Tony Buckley and John Hayes on their books but both props suffered badly in last Saturday's Heineken Cup defeat to Ospreys at Liberty Stadium, when the home side's scrummaging power was the deciding factor.

The province released a statement yesterday confirming Warwick's departure, saying the 29-year-old was offered "terms that Munster are unable to match". The Australian, one of Munster's non-Irish qualified players, is believed to have agreed to join Stade Francais on a three-year deal.

Irish Independent

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