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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 21 January, 2019

Former Leinster out-half McKinley earns contract extension with Benetton

The 28-year-old has agreed terms on a new two-year deal.

McKinley has made 13 Pro14 appearances this term.
McKinley has made 13 Pro14 appearances this term.
Image: Ashley Crowden/INPHO

IAN MCKINLEY HAS committed his future to Benetton Treviso after signing a two-year contract extension with the Italian side.

The out-half’s new deal will see him remain under contract with the Guinness Pro14 outfit until June 2020, with McKinley restating his commitment to the club which has helped him resurrect his career.

Forced to retire from rugby in 2011 because of a freak training ground incident which left him blinded in one eye, McKinley has embarked on a remarkable journey back to the top level and was last November capped by Italy.

After spells with Viadana and Zebre, McKinley joined Benetton ahead of the 2016/17 season and has helped Kieran Crowley’s side made significant headway in recent years, particularly this term as they chase a Champions Cup playoff berth.

“These last two years have seen incredible growth on the part of the club,” he said. “I absolutely want to be part of this group in the future.”

McKinley has made 13 appearances for Treviso in the Pro14 this year and will return to the RDS on Saturday to face his former club in the penultimate fixture of the regular season.

Ian McKinley McKinley was in Italy's Six Nations squad but didn't feature during the championship. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

The former St Columba’s College playmaker made six senior appearances for Leinster before he was forced to call time on his career at the age of 21.

An Ireland U20 international, the Dublin native came out of  retirement and returned to professional rugby with Viadana as, at the time, the protective goggles he wore were prohibited in Ireland.

McKinley signed for Benetton on an initial one-year deal in 2016 and after the IRFU joined a trial scheme to approve the eyewear, continued his journey with a fairytale return to the RDS to play a Pro12 match against his native Leinster in September 2016.

He has won three international caps for Italy, making his debut off the bench in the November Test against Fiji last year.

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