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Dublin: 17 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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Leinster academy tighthead Aungier set to make switch to Connacht

The 21-year-old made five senior appearances for the eastern province this season.

LEINSTER ACADEMY TIGHTHEAD prop Jack Aungier is set to join Connacht ahead of next season.

The former Ireland U20 international is coming towards the end of three years with Leinster’s academy but The42 understands he is now set to continue his professional career with a move to the western province.

jack-aungier 21-year-old Aungier is set for a move to Connacht. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Aungier’s exit from Leinster will come at the same time as fellow promising academy prop Roman Salanoa is departing for Munster next season, ensuring a big dent to the eastern province’s depth chart at tighthead.

It’s believed that Salanoa’s move to Munster came about after Aungier had agreed to join Connacht, leading to frustration within Leinster, who understood that only one of their young props would be departing this summer.

Salanoa had initially spoken to Connacht about a possible move but Leinster felt they had done enough to convince the 22-year-old to stay put, with Aungier subsequently agreeing to join Connacht.

However, the picture changed again in recent weeks as Munster signed Salanoa, who was encouraged by the IRFU to move south.

Leinster’s annoyance is understood to centre around the fact that they had planned ahead with Salanoa as part of their tighthead depth chart for next season.

21-year-old Aungier got his senior Leinster debut off the bench against the Dragons last November in the Pro14 and made a further four replacement appearances this season, including a cameo late on in the win away to Munster in December. 

Aungier was the Ireland U20s’ first-choice tighthead in 2018, starting eight games in the Six Nations and World Rugby U20 Championship.

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The 6ft 2ins prop started his rugby journey with Suttonians RFC and also developed as part of a talented St. Fintan’s High School team. Aungier was capped by the Ireland U18s when he was still just 16 and helped St. Fintan’s into the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in 2017.

Having been on Leinster’s radar from an early stage, Aungier advanced into the academy straight out of school for the 2017/18 season and linked up with Clontarf, his progress leading on towards that senior debut for Leinster last year.

jack-aungier-scores-their-sixth-try Aungier scores a try for the Ireland U20s in 2018. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

However, the dynamic 114kg Aungier is now set to continue his career with a move to Connacht, where he will be hoping to get plenty of senior team exposure next season and beyond.

28-year-old Ireland international Finlay Bealham is Connacht’s first-choice tighthead, while 26-year-old Dominic Robertson-McCoy, who is Irish-qualified, is seen as the back-up in that position.

23-year-old academy product Conor Kenny featured off the bench on a handful of occasions this season, while 26-year-old former Munster tighthead Rory Burke’s season was ruined by injury after he had joined from Nottingham in the Championship.

Connacht didn’t have a tighthead prop in their academy this season.

As for Leinster, Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter are their leading tightheads. Michael Bent is an important squad player and is set to extend his contract into next season.

24-year-old Vakh Abdaladze featured off the bench four times this season, while academy tighthead Tom Clarkson, who has been superb for the Ireland U20s over the last two seasons, is highly-rated.

With Leinster as likely as ever to lose a large cohort of players to Ireland camps – including both Furlong and Porter – whenever international rugby returns, there is frustration at two tightheads departing this summer.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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