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'I don't know what sort of pressure he was under in the background'

Leo Cullen expressed his displeasure with the circumstances of Roman Salanoa’s move to Munster.

LEO CULLEN HAS expressed his frustration at the circumstances of tighthead prop Roman Salanoa’s recent move from Leinster to Munster.

The Leinster boss claims Salanoa had verbally agreed to stay with Leinster into the 2020/21 season and added that he “can’t say what sort of pressure [Salanoa] was being put under in the background” to make the move south.

Leinster announced the short-term loan signing of former Munster prop Ciaran Parker today as they looked to bolster their tighthead depth chart, with Vakh Abdaladze sidelined indefinitely due to a back injury.

Ireland international Tadhg Furlong is also currently out of action, although he is close to a return from his back issue, according to Cullen.

roman-salanoa Roman Salanoa moved to Munster this summer. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

But with Furlong and Andrew Porter both likely to be heavily involved with Ireland again in the coming months, Cullen felt Leinster needed another player at tighthead prop, where they also have Michael Bent in their senior squad and 20-year-old Tom Clarkson in the academy.

Having had to make a new signing, Cullen indicated his frustration over 22-year-old Salanoa’s move to Munster during the summer, claiming that the Hawaii native had verbally agreed to stay with Leinster into the 2020/21 campaign.

As reported by The42 back in May, Salanoa had initially rejected an opportunity to move to Connacht and looked set to stay with Leinster but it’s understood that the IRFU subsequently encouraged the tighthead to shift south to Munster, where he decided he would have a greater chance of making swift progress.

With Leinster academy prop Jack Aungier having agreed to join Connacht in the meantime, Leinster are understood to have been very frustrated at losing Salanoa.

Salanoa first linked up with Leinster’s sub-academy in 2017 and subsequently advanced into their full academy, making his first three senior appearances in the 2019/20 season before it was put on hold.

Salanoa has yet to feature for Munster since his move to Limerick, having just returned from an abdominal injury, but it’s clear that Cullen and Leinster remain displeased by the transfer.

“He told me he was staying,” said Cullen today when asked about the circumstances of Salanoa’s departure. “I told him I had to deal with another player. 

“So, basically, that’s how it unfolded. I basically took him at his word, but he hadn’t actually signed the contract.

“I don’t know what sort of pressure he was under in the background, but he left us compromised. I was up front with him from day one, so he knew.

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“If players want to go, that’s completely their own business. I’m not going to tell them what’s best for their careers, they can decide that for themselves.

“He knew there was an effect for someone else, an effect for the players we have here and I can’t say what sort of pressure he was being put under in the background.

“You’d want to ask him himself.”

ciaran-parker Ciaran Parker has joined Leinster on a three-month loan deal. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Cullen explained that Leinster needed to add an extra player at tighthead as a result, hence the signing of 24-year-old Parker on a three-month loan deal. 

“We knew we were a little bit exposed off the back of last season, before we broke up,” said Cullen.

“The Roman one was a little bit frustrating when he left, because he gave me the impression… because he told me that he was going to stay.

“So, there was another player [Aungier] who left and Vakh Abdaladze is injured as well, so because there are so many international games coming up, we knew we needed to have some extra coverage for this period.

“Ciaran is Irish-qualified, the big thing is the Championship in England… there’s a good bit of uncertainty as to when that start date is going to be. We’re very appreciative of Jersey for allowing this loan period that we have agreed.

“I don’t know what the selection for Ireland is going to be, but there are six internationals we think in seven weeks.

“Assuming Tadhg and Andrew Porter are gone, it just leaves us a bit skinny with Michael Bent and Tom Clarkson here. Tom is still an academy player, so I thought we needed a bit of extra cover.

“We’d been looking around probably for four months maybe, so we’re very appreciative for Jersey agreeing to the arrangement.”

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Murray Kinsella

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