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Munster set to sign Irish centre Chris Farrell for next season

The 23-year-old centre is returning home to Ireland next summer.

MUNSTER ARE SET to sign Irish centre Chris Farrell from Top 14 club Grenoble ahead of next season.

Chris Farrell Farrell has been in France since 2014. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The 23-year-old has been in France since 2014 but his contract expires next summer and Farrell has been keen to return to Ireland.

The probability of the centre moving home was first reported by French media as early as last season, and sources in Ireland have now confirmed to The42 that Farrell has agreed to join Munster.

A product of the Ulster academy, Farrell played three times for the northern province at senior level but his opportunities were limited by a spate of cruel injuries.

The 6’5″ midfielder joined Grenoble in 2014 seeking a fresh start, turning down the possibility of an inter-provincial transfer or a new contract with Ulster at that point. The move to France saw him working alongside compatriots Bernard Jackman, Mike Prendergast, Denis Coulson and James Hart, who has since moved to Racing 92.

Farrell has made 51 appearances in the Top 14 over the past three seasons, nailing down the 13 shirt for FCG. A former Ireland U20 international, he is now set to return to these shores in order to pursue senior Test honours.

Farrell Farrell assists a Nigel Hunt try in Grenoble's 44-16 win over Bayonne last weekend.

The Fivemiletown man possesses a sharp offloading game, while his height and 108kg weight mean he is powerful in contact. Farrell’s passing game has developed notably in recent seasons, he has enough pace to have started a game on the wing in his first season with Grenoble, and his defensive intelligence is another strength.

Munster currently have Francis Saili, Rory Scannell, Sam Arnold, Cian Bohane, David Johnston, Colm O’Shea and Jaco Taute in their senior squad as centre options. However, All Black Saili’s contract expires next summer, while Taute and O’Shea are on short-term deals.

Farrell is the latest element of a strong recruitment drive from Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, who is keen to refresh the southern province’s playing squad.

farrell-4 Farrell beats Robbie Henshaw's tackle attempt in last season's clash with Connacht.

New Zealand native Rhys Marshall has been signed on a three-year deal to provide competition at hooker, while Munster are also close to finalising a contract to lure South African prop Oliver Kebble to Ireland next season.

Erasmus – in his first year of a three-year deal – and Munster have been active on the transfer market in recent weeks, with the province understood to be looking for further new signings ahead of the 2017/18 campaign.

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Murray Kinsella

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