Leinster close to signing South African scrum-half as World Cup cover

Conrad Hoffmann is set to join from the Sharks on a three-month contract.

LEINSTER ARE CLOSE to signing South African scrum-half Conrad Hoffmann on a short-term contract.

Leinster players huddle Leinster have added scrum-half cover. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The42 understands that 27-year-old Hoffmann is set to join on a three-month deal from the Sharks, for whom he made 12 appearances in the 2015 Super Rugby season.

While The42 has learned the contract has not yet been signed on Leinster’s side, an official confirmation looks impending. All player and coaching contracts in the professional game in Ireland must also be copper-fastened by IRFU performance director David Nucifora.

Barring any concerns from the IRFU, as there have been over the deal to install Leo Cullen as head coach, Hoffmann’s signing should be confirmed by Leinster shortly.

With Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss both possibly missing the start of the season due to involvement in the Rugby World Cup and with Ireland U20s captain Nick McCarthy on the recovery trail after a shoulder injury, Cullen has looked to add scrum-half cover.

Hoffmann is a former South Africa U19 international who has Super Rugby experience with the Sharks and fellow South African side the Stormers. He also spent a short stint with the Brumbies in Australia in 2014, playing four times for the franchise.

The scrum-half was set to feature in Natal’s Currie Cup campaign, which starts on 7 August, but he has instead opted to take up Leinster’s short-term offer.

Reddan looks certain to be part of Ireland’s World Cup campaign, while Joe Schmidt has shown faith in Boss’ experience in the recent past too. With Conor Murray to travel to the World Cup as first-choice and Reddan as back-up, Schmidt appears to have a straight decision to make between Boss and Connacht’s Kieran Marmion.

Hoffmann Hoffmann's profile on the Sharks' official website Source: Sharks Rugby

The signing of Hoffmann prepares Leinster for the possibility of losing both Reddan and Boss.

The promising Luke McGrath is likely to be looking forward to increased opportunities in September and October, but with McCarthy still building towards full fitness the cover for Leinster had been looking somewhat bare and Hoffmann’s experience may be useful.

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Ireland U20 international Charlie Rock was not announced as part of this season’s intake into the Leinster academy, but The42 understands that he is part of the set-up on a temporary basis at present.

A Leinster Senior Cup-winning captain with Blackrock College in 2013, Rock should learn whether or not he will be retained on a permanent academy deal in the coming months.

Homegrown John Cooney left the the province to join Connacht this summer, having spent a portion of last season on loan out west.

Leinster’s pre-season campaign gets underway with a clash against Ulster on 21 August, before they welcome English Championship outfit Moseley to Donnybrook a week later. The province’s opening competitive fixture of the campaign is a trip to Edinburgh in the Guinness Pro12 on 4 September.

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