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Munster confirm Keatley departure

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PRO 14    

Munster confirm Keatley departure

Munster outhalf Ian Keatley is leaving the club at the end of the season, his club have confirmed.

Keatley joined Munster ahead of the 2011/12 campaign and has been an integral member of the squad over the past eight years.

Having scored 1,247 points in his 180 Munster appearances to date, Keatley is second on the list of Munster’s all-time top points scorers.

Capped seven times by Ireland, Keatley is third on the list of all-time top points scorers in Guinness PRO14 (1,428 points) and fifth on the list of most games played (196 matches).

He’s signed for Italian side Benetton Rugby.

“I am very happy to start a new chapter of my career at Benetton Rugby. This is a fantastic opportunity for my wife and my daughter to experience something very different,” Keatley said.

“At this time, the Benetton is one of the clubs at the top to achieve something special and I want to be part of this exciting journey. I also feel that with the excellent work done by the staff and my new teammates together we can help you achieve many successes. I cannot wait to debut at the Stadio Comunale Monigo.” said the new purchase-and-whites.

Keatley has found game-time hard to come by this season, with Joey Carbery the first choice at 10 since his move from Leinster, while JJ Hanrahan the preferred option as back-up this season. Tyler Bleyendaal can also operate at 10, meaning Munster are well stacked in that position.

Keatley was linked to a move to Ulster last summer when news first emerged of Carbery’s switch to Thomond Park and before Ulster had landed Billy Burns from Gloucester.

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Benetton Rugby sports director, Antonio Pavanello, added: “Right from the start with Ian there was agreement on the sharing of the project and the objectives, and as happened with Duvenage has espoused the idea of being a constant support for our younger players so as to help them in their growth.

“In a particular season as the next, given the busy schedules of the National Major Italian players and that we thus lose, we are sure Keatley will bring experience and solidity in the multiple roles of the back line; reasoning similar to that done for the leaders of the touche.

“Not least, the choice fell on him because we are talking about a player who is well aware of our competition and the European Rugby ”

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Munster confirm Keatley departure