Ireland U-20s head coach Richie Murphy has admitted losing rising star Dan Kelly to England is a blow.
Kelly, who starred for Ireland in last year’s U-20s Six Nations campaign, was born in England, but his Irish roots meant he chose to represent his adopted country.
Although attempts were made to keep Kelly within the Irish system, by signing him to one of the four provinces, the 19-year-old returned to England to study at Loughborough University before he made his breakthrough with Leicester Tigers this season.
Up until a few months ago, Kelly had been involved in online sessions with the Ireland U-20s, but the talented centre is now set to pursue his international career with England, having been called up by Eddie Jones ahead of next month’s Tests against USA and Canada, as well as an ‘A’ clash with Scotland.
“It’s obviously disappointing,” Murphy conceded.
“We’ll deal with the players that we have here and we have got some fantastic rugby players here. Obviously, Dan is a loss. He was in our system last year. He went back to Leicester and is in college over there. His life is around that area.
“Within the conversations that the IRFU have had with him, Dan has been very good. He really enjoyed his time with us, but he feels that he needs to go in a different direction at the moment. We respect his decision and we move on from it.”
Meanwhile, Leone Nakarawa’s summer move to Ulster is off after the Fijian star failed his medical.
One versatile back on his way to Ireland is Irish-qualified South African Shayne Bolton, who will join a Connacht squad also looking to sign Munster prop James Cronin.