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Leinster No.8 Max Deegan to switch provinces

By Neil Fissler
Max Deegan of Leinster arrives before the United Rugby Championship match between Dragons and Leinster at Rodney Parade in Newport, Wales. (Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ulster are poised to steam the flow of players leaving Belfast after swooping on Champions Cup semi-finalists Leinster to land Ireland back row Max Deegan on a two-year deal.

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Ulster fans have been frustrated to see Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff leave the cash-strapped province to return to the Stormers less than six months into a three-year contract after suffering a serious knee injury.

They have also seen fly-half Billy Burns cross the border to join Munster while centre Luke Marshall has announced that he is retiring at the end of the campaign after spending 15 seasons at the club.

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So far, the only new face scheduled to arrive at the Kingspan Stadium this summer is former South African sevens journeyman Warner Kok, the former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, who has signed a two-year deal.

Dublin-born Deegan, 27, who operates at No.8 and blindside Flanker, has seen his career stall at Leinster with Caelen Doris and Jack Conan ahead of him in the pecking order at No 8, while Ryan Baird is seen as the favoured choice on the blindside.

He has made over 100 appearances since joining his home province in 2016 and won the last two of his two test caps off the bench in the Autumn Nations Cup clash with Fiji in November 2022.

Deegan is keen to add to his international caps, but realistically, that was unlikely to happen while he was the second or third choice at Leinster, and with both Ulster’s Nick Timoney and Munster’s Gavin Coombes also ahead of him in the Test pecking order.

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“There are four back rows in the Ireland squad from Leinster, so if you’re beating them in here, then you’re getting into the Ireland squad, I believe,” said Deegan in an interview last year. “If you’re playing week in, week out in the Leinster team I think you have a good chance of getting in the Ireland squad.”

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