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Munster announce signing of Irish qualified fullback from Sale Sharks

Mike Haley moves to Limerick on a three-year deal.

Haley has made 105 appearances for Sale since making his debut in 2013.
Haley has made 105 appearances for Sale since making his debut in 2013.
Image: Getty Images

MUNSTER AND THE IRFU have confirmed the signing of Irish qualified fullback Mike Haley on a three-year contract from Sale Sharks.

The 23-year-old, whose maternal grandmother is from Tralee, Co Kerry, will join the province ahead of next season having made 105 appearances for Premiership outfit Sale.

Haley made his European debut against Munster back in October 2014 and has represented England Saxons on a tour to South Africa in June 2016 as well as featuring for an England XV against the Barbarians at Twickenham in May 2017.

The English-born back has found opportunities hard to come by at the AJ Bell Stadium this season with Australian James O’Connor Sale’s first-choice 15.

Munster have been in the market for a fullback ahead of Simon Zebo’s impending departure for Racing 92, and as reported by The42 yesterday, the IRFU’s IQ Rugby programme played a central role in the province’s capture of Haley.

“We are delighted to recruit an exciting young playmaker such as Mike,” Johann van Graan said.

“At 23, he has over six years of professional rugby under his belt and will be a great addition to our squad.”

Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond expressed his disappointment to see Haley leave the club, but said he would not stand in the player’s way of playing international rugby for Ireland.

“It has been a really difficult decision to let Mike go with us having brought him through from being a teenager and with Mike having a year left on his contract with the club,” Diamond said.

Sale Sharks v Lyon - European Rugby Challenge Cup 'I just felt that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity I had to take.' Source: Nigel Roddis

“However, he has aspirations to play international rugby with Ireland and we really didn’t want to stand in his way.

“Mike is a great lad and has served Sale brilliantly, making over 100 appearances. And although we would like to keep him at Sale, along with all our local talented lads, this is an exceptional circumstance and we wish him well.

“I hope all Sharks’ supporters would also wish Mike the best of luck.”

Commenting on his move to Ireland, Haley added:  ”Obviously it was a very, very difficult decision. I’ve spent many happy years here at Sale but after lots of careful thought I just felt that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity I had to take.

“I have a strong family connections with Munster and used to go there all the time when I was younger and being eligible to play for Ireland was another big factor.

“But I will be giving absolutely everything for Sale between now and the end of the season.”

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