Sunday 25 August 2019

Confirmed: 'This was a difficult decision' - Ireland prop Jack McGrath to swap Leinster for Ulster next season

Jack McGrath
Jack McGrath Newsdesk Newsdesk

Jack McGrath will join the growing number of former Leinster players at Ulster next season after the IRFU confirmed the prop's move to the northern province.

The 29-year-old, who appeared in three Tests for the Lions in 2017, is still under a central contract for next season meaning the negotiations took place between the player and IRFU rather than the provinces.

McGrath has found himself behind Cian Healy in the pecking order at international and provincial level and has come under pressure from Ed Byrne for a place on the Leinster bench.

Ulster already have a host of Dubliners on their books, with John Cooney, Jordi Murphy and Marty Moore the highest profile of the southern contingent, while Leinster also have a host of ex-players on the books of Connacht and Munster.

The province are already losing Seán O’Brien after the World Cup to London Irish and McGrath represents another experienced departure.

Commenting on his decision, McGrath said: "This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game. I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster, but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career, I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.

"I am now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and I’m looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster’s drive to defend the European and PRO14 titles and finishing this season on a high."

The move was also welcomed by Dan McFarland, Ulster’s Head Coach.

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"We are delighted to be welcoming Jack on board next season, and it is hugely encouraging to see a player of his calibre express the desire to join us," he said.

"Jack’s quality on the field is undoubtable, and his experience of playing at the highest level will be a hugely valuable asset to the club as we continue to develop a promising group of young forwards."

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, added: "Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland. You have to respect a player with such ambition.

"Leinster is a fantastic environment but it is testament to the work that all four provinces are doing that players are seeking opportunities within Ireland to advance their international careers."

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