Ireland prop Jack McGrath will leave Leinster for Ulster after this autumn’s World Cup in order to improve his international prospects.
McGrath, who is contracted to the Irish Rugby Football Union, has won 57 caps but has slipped behind provincial colleague Cian Healy in the loosehead pecking order following the veteran’s resurgence.
“This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game,” said McGrath, who suffered a hip injury at the start of the season.
“I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.”
“I’m now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and am looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster’s drive to defend the European and PRO14 titles and finishing this season on a high.”
McGrath has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and two European titles with Leinster.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora said: “Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland. You have to respect a player with such ambition.
“Leinster is a fantastic environment but it is testament to the work that all four provinces are doing that players are seeking opportunities within Ireland to advance their international careers.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Ireland’s quest to win a first World Cup has suffered a major setback after Dan Leavy was ruled out of the tournament by a knee injury described by Leinster as “complex”.
Leavy lasted only 11 minutes of Saturday’s Champions Cup quarter-final victory over Ulster before he was carried from the pitch on a stretcher having replaced Sean O’Brien in the second-half.
The 24-year-old openside had just recovered from the long-term calf injury that forced him to miss the recent Six Nations in which Ireland surrendered their crown to Wales.
Not only will Leavy be absent for the climax to Leinster’s bid to defend their European title, he will also sit out Japan 2019 to rehabilitate an injury that will require long-term medical attention.
“Leinster can confirm that Dan Leavy had an initial scan yesterday on a complex knee ligament injury but needs further assessment this week,” his province announced.
“He has been ruled out for the remainder of the season and into next season to include the World Cup.”
Leavy was superb throughout last year’s Six Nations as Ireland completed the Grand Slam, but has struggled with injury in the wake of the subsequent summer tour to Australia.
“Dan worked so hard to get himself back and physically fit,” Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty said.
“He’s such a huge threat on either side of the ball, gives the team a lot confidence so it’s a big loss for Leinster and Irish Rugby. He’ll make a plan now to get himself back.”
Eddie Jones has dismissed the role of Lions head coach as an “ambassador job” while refusing to rule out the possibility of succeeding Michael Cheika as Australia boss.
Jones insists he has no interest in leading the elite of British and Irish rugby to South Africa in 2021, in the process taking a dig at Warren Gatland who was in charge of the previous two tours.
Gatland recently masterminded his third Grand Slam with Wales and is favourite to continue in the post.
“The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer,” Jones told the Brisbane Courier Mail.
“That’s an ambassador job. I’m a coach. I’d rather coach the Queensland Sheffield Shield (cricket) team.”
Gatland is also favourite to replace Jones after this autumn’s World Cup when his reign as Wales boss ends.
Beyond Japan 2019, Jones’ future is clouded in doubt despite a contract extension lasting until 2021 that is dependent on performance at the global showpiece.
And the Australian has done nothing to clarify his position by keeping the door ajar to reprising a role he performed from 2001-05 when the World Cup is over.
“I don’t think I would ever say ‘never’, but it’s not something I have really thought about,’ Jones said.
“One thing Australia are not short of is talent. Cheika is in a good position. This could be his last hurrah and he’s got nothing to lose.”