Tuesday 26 September 2017

Donncha O'Callaghan puts pen to new deal with Munster

VETERAN second-row Donncha O'Callaghan has signed a new two-and-half-year deal with Munster that is likely to see him finish his career a one-club man.

The 34-year-old Corkman has moved from a central IRFU contract to a provincial deal after being supplanted as a starter in the national side, but he retains some hope of adding to his 94 caps after being retained in the Ireland set-up as cover this week.

While he is not a central member of Joe Schmidt's plans, the second-row remains important to Munster and will remain with the province until 2016. He looks set to become Munster's most capped player as he closes in on Ronan O'Gara's 240 appearances.

Having made his debut in 1998, O'Callaghan's new deal will bring him to almost two decades wearing the red jersey, and he insists that his passion has not waned.

Munster coach Rob Penney will now be hoping Munster can tie up a number of other players whose deals expire at the end of this season, with Paul O'Connell, Conor Murray, Keith Earls and Donnacha Ryan all high on the priority list.

MARMION PLEDGES HIS FUTURE TO CONNACHT

CONNACHT received some much-needed good news as they signed rising star Kieran Marmion up to a new contract.

The Welsh-born former Ireland U-20 international has been a real success story for the Westerners since he burst on to the scene last season.

He made the Ireland squad for last summer's tour of the USA and Canada but wasn't capped by Les Kiss, while he missed out on selection for the November internationals despite some strong displays in the Heineken Cup.

That has led to speculation that Wales might attempt to swoop in and recruit the 21-year-old, but his decision to remain in Galway is a boost for club and country.

NO PUMAS RIFT - LEGUIZAMON

Argentina captain Juan Manuel Leguizamon insists the Pumas will enter Saturday's game against England with a united squad.

Leguizamon denies there is a rift in the camp that resulted in the resignation of coach Santiago Phelan, who objected to information being leaked to the media. Daniel Hourcade has been appointed as his successor.

Argentina finished bottom of the Rugby Championship and have lost star players Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Martin Hernandez to the treatment room, but Leguizamon has promised they will be ready for their Twickenham appointment.

"The team is very tight and our objectives are clear. People are talking about that, but we don't care," he said.

"Sometimes you have new coaches and you have to adapt to the situation. We are all professional players and we must adapt as quickly as possible to the new system."

Irish Independent

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