Ireland’s Six Nations stars Hugo Keenan and Jack Conan have penned new deals with Leinster, while the province also moved to secure the signature of two of its up-and-coming stars.
Back row Scott Penny, who scored nine tries in 11 appearances for the province this season, and former Ireland U20 captain David Hawkshaw have both committed their futures to the province.
Both Penny and Keenan signed their first Leinster senior deals ahead of the 2019-2020 season after graduating from the Leinster academy.
Following hot on the heels of the signing of Samoan prop Michael Alaalatoa earlier this week, wrapping up the futures of the talented quartet is a good piece of business by Leo Cullen’s side, who also announced contract extensions for Dave Kearney, Tom Clarkson, Ross Molony and James Tracy.
Keenan got his first taste of action with the province in 2016, but it wasn’t until last season that he really broke into the Leinster team making 12 starts in his 13 appearances, most of which came on the wing.
This season 24-year-old Keenan has claimed the full back shirt as his own following the departure of Rob Kearney from the province, although he will look to add to his solitary Leinster try in the coming weeks following his nomination for European Player of the Year.
Keenan’s first Ireland cap arrived last October in the delayed Six Nations encounter against Italy, but he recently played 80 minutes in all five of Ireland’s Six Nations games and has scored four tries in 11 appearances.
No. 8 Conan (28) recently made his 100th appearance for the province and was instrumental in his side’s victory over Munster in the recent PRO14 final, a day that he scored his only provincial try of the season.
The recent lay off of Caelan Doris has given Conan the opportunity to reclaim his spot at the back of the Leinster and Ireland scrum following his own injury problems, and the Wicklow native has done so with great gusto.
After strong replacement performances against Italy and Scotland in the Six Nations, Conan rounded off the international season with a start and a try in victory over England. Conan’s first taste of professional rugby came in 2014, when he also started and crossed for a try against Cardiff Blues.
And 21-year-old Dubliner Penny has been in outstanding form for Leinster this season, and only his recent hand injury halted his drive towards a Champions Cup role. Penny scored nine tries for Leinster this season, scores that arrived in ten starts, most of which were made in the openside flanker shirt.
This is Penny’s third season representing Leinster, and after this stellar campaign he was named the Guinness PRO14’s Next-Gen Star of the Season, an award previously won by Jordan Larmour and Joey Carbery.
Meanwhile, Hawkshaw signs his first professional deal with Leinster and has graduated after completing his third year at the Leinster academy.
The 21-year-old Hawkshaw, aformer Dublin minor hurler, has featured seven times off the bench for Leinster this season, and bagged his maiden try in victory against Scarlets in January.