CARDIFF BLUES back-row Robin Copeland has signed a two-year deal with Munster after rejecting the offer of a new contract from the Welsh club.
The Wexford-born blindside/No 8 will return to these shores at the end of the season in a move that he hopes will help him to force his way into the Ireland reckoning.
A late developer, who left the Leinster Academy as a teenager, the Kilkenny College graduate was a star for St Mary's in the All-Ireland League before heading to Rotherham Titans and then the Blues at the start of last season. Copeland (26) had become a firm fans' favourite in the Welsh capital.
"We've seen Robin in action first hand and we've always been hugely impressed by his potential," said Munster head coach Rob Penney.
"He brings a great deal of versatility and we believe he will be a great addition to the squad."
Munster are expected to confirm that Conor Murray faces a spell on the sidelines after the scrum-half underwent scans on knee ligament damage suffered in Sunday's win over Perpignan. While the Lion is likely to be out for a number of weeks, the injury is unlikely to affect his Six Nations availability.
Ian Keatley is expected to be fit for Saturday's return fixture in France, but Luke O'Dea will be out for eight weeks after fracturing a bone in his hand in Friday's 'A' match in Plymouth.
Meanwhile, Perpignan captain James Hook has warned Munster to expect a very different opposition side at the Stade Aime Giral. Renowned poor travellers, Perpignan's ground is one of the most intimidating venues in France.
"We'll be disappointed, we'll want to work on a few things and it does turn into a massive game for us next week," Hook said.
"Munster do know how to win big Heineken Cup games and it is going to be a big battle again."
Perpignan will have to deal without fly-half Camille Lopez who limped off on Sunday with a knee injury and has been ruled out for six weeks, but they hope to welcome back Luke Narraway and David Marty as well as former Munster centre Lifeimi Mafi.