Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster have been busy this week in announcing a series of contract announcements and coach Leo Cullen has now had his say about the situation at the club that last weekend defeated Exeter to win its way through to a Heineken Champions Cup semi-final away to La Rochelle.
While the IRFU central contract extensions for Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton were already public knowledge, the contracting at a provincial level kicked off on Monday with the signing of Michael Alaalatoa from the Crusaders and continued with extensions for the likes of Jack Cronin, Hugo Keenan and Ronan Kelleher who have become Ireland regulars in recent times. An extension was also agreed with veteran Devin Toner.
“This has been a challenging few months on the contracting front so it is important to acknowledge the role of the IRFU and our own Mick Dawson and Guy Easterby and their work in managing a very difficult period,” said Cullen, who himself has signed on for another year with Leinster who clinched their fourth successive PRO14 title last month.
“We look forward to welcoming Michael and Nick (McCarthy) to the club in the coming months and to have retained 17 players, 16 of whom came through our academy system, is a huge boost for everyone as we look forward to next season and hopefully supporters being back at the RDS Arena.
“That 16 players came through the Leinster player pathway is a testament to the hard work that underpins our identity as a club and I’d like to acknowledge the role of our clubs and our schools in the players’ development. The role of Noel McNamara, Trevor Hogan and all the team down in the Ken Wall centre of excellence in Energia Park and all across the twelve counties should also be acknowledged for their work in identifying and developing these players.
“I’m sure lots of Leinster supporters will remember his performance in Bilbao when he was still straining every last fibre deep into injury time to try to block down the late Remi Tales drop-goal attempt."https://t.co/QDbp394iyc
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 15, 2021
“Finally, congratulations to Thomas Clarkson, David Hawkshaw and Michael Milne on their first professional contracts. Three players that have taken their opportunities when presented over the last few years and I am delighted for them and wish them well. We have much to do still this season but announcements like these are important as we plan for the future and we hope the supporters are as excited about what’s ahead as we are.”
1. Michael Alaalatoa
2. Thomas Clarkson – promoted from the academy
3. Jack Conan
4. Sean Cronin
5. David Hawkshaw – promoted from the academy
6. Dave Kearney
7. Hugo Keenan
8. Ronan Kelleher
9. Dan Leavy
10. Nick McCarthy
11. Luke McGrath
12. Michael Milne – promoted from the academy
13. Ross Molony
14. Jimmy O’Brien
15. Scott Penny
16. Devin Toner
17. James Tracy
1. Cian Healy
2. Johnny Sexton
The popular 41-year-old official is back in the game https://t.co/Qddr50Rj3Y
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) April 16, 2021
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