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Tomas O’Leary joins London Irish as Jerry Flannery quits due to injury


Tomas O'Leary. Photo: Getty Images

Tomas O'Leary. Photo: Getty Images

Tomas O'Leary. Photo: Getty Images

IRELAND scrum-half Tomas O'Leary has signed a three-year deal with London Irish. His announcement came at the same time that his Munster team-mate Jerry Flanney announced he was quitting the sport.

The 28-year-old will join the Exiles in the summer from Munster, where he has won two Heineken Cups and two Magners League titles.

O'Leary will replace former England scrum-half Paul Hodgson, who will leave London Irish for Worcester at the end of this season.

Capped 24 times, O'Leary was part of Ireland's Grand Slam-winning side in 2009 and he was selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa only for an ankle injury to rule him out.

"Joining London Irish presents a new and exciting chapter in my career and one that I am really looking forward to," O'Leary said.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Munster and the Heineken Cup triumph in 2008 will always remain a highlight.

"I'm looking forward to working alongside Brian and the coaching team and testing myself in the Aviva Premiership and playing alongside a very talented squad at London Irish.

"I have been lucky enough to be part of some winning teams at both Munster and Ireland and I hope to have even more success as a London Irish player."

Exiles director of rugby Brian Smith said: "Tomas will be a fantastic addition to our squad. He is a proven scrum half who has represented his country at the highest level.

"He will bring with him a wealth of experience and a winning mentality. We look forward to welcoming him to the club this summer."

Meanwhile, Flannery's announcement brings an end to a highly decorated and successful career..

Capped 41 times by Ireland, the 33-year-old was a member of the Rugby World Cup squad that travelled to New Zealand five months ago but had to return home after a calf injury flared up.

The has troubled the player for two years. He rehabilitated from that but has struggled with a back problem this season.

Flannery told munsterrugby.ie: “I'm very sad to have to announce my immediate retirement from rugby due to injury. Since my injury at the 2011 World Cup, I've struggled to regain the level of fitness required to play at this level and after consulting with the medical staff at Munster and at Ireland I am announcing my retirement with immediate effect.

“I would like to thank all the medical staff who have worked so hard on my behalf and shown great patience in dealing with me. I feel incredibly privileged to have played with so many great players with Munster and with Ireland.

To train hard and win trophies for Munster and Ireland alongside some of my best friends has been an amazing experience.’’