Leinster insist Sean O'Brien's move 'out of our hands'
Leinster have conceded they were unable to prevent Seán O'Brien's switch to London Irish on a three-year contract worth a reported €500,000 a year after the deal was confirmed by former Ireland coach Declan Kidney's club yesterday.
O'Brien, who will still be available for World Cup selection in Japan later this year, claimed the decision was one of the hardest he has had to make in his career, while Leinster said they were "disappointed" to see the player leave.
"It was almost out of Leinster's hands as soon as that national contract wasn't offered and Seánie got such a fantastic offer from England," said senior coach Stuart Lancaster. "It's part of the nature of the game, unfortunately. He's going to coaches he knows well, obviously, they're trying to build themselves back into a Premiership.
"It's a fantastic signing for London Irish I must say, and a huge blow for us. It wasn't that long ago, with the Lions, he showed how good he was against the best team in the world. He's still got it in him."
Kidney, who first capped O'Brien for Ireland ten years ago, was delighted to snap up a player who, although injury-prone, remains a world-class player in the back row.
"Seán has proven himself time and time again to be a quality player who sets very high standards for himself and those around him, he leads by example and has a winning mentality," he said.
O'Brien added: "After speaking with Declan, it was obvious the ambition London Irish have as a club. I'm keen to roll up the sleeves and use my experience to help re-establish London Irish as a top club in England."