Leinster underage product Timoney heads north to join Ulster

The Ireland U20 international back row has signed an academy contract with the northern province.

IRELAND U20 BACK row Nick Timoney has signed for Ulster on a two-year academy contract.

Timoney was impressive as a ball-carrying number eight in Blackrock College’s 2013 Leinster Schools Senior Cup-winning team and then captained the Dublin school’s 2014 success.

Nick Timoney Timoney carries the ball against Argentina at this year's World Rugby U20 Championship in Italy. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

The 19-year-old played his representative underage rugby with Leinster up to U20 level.

Timoney, capable of playing across the back row, was one of those overlooked for a place in Leinster’s academy intake this summer, although his potential meant he drew interest from outside his home province.

The St. Mary’s man, who turns 20 this weekend, had at least one offer from a Top 14 club, but has made the decision instead to stay in Ireland by making the move north to join Ulster’s academy.

The competition for back row places and playing opportunities in Leinster is famously fierce, with Ireland U20 international Josh Murphy the only back row player brought into the province’s academy ahead of the 2015/16 season.

Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy were both promoted from the academy onto professional contracts, while Jordan Coghlan has joined Anthony Foley’s Munster on a one-year deal.

Ulster, meanwhile, will look to the likes of Frankie Taggart, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow and Joshua Atkinson to push into their senior set-up in the coming seasons under director of rugby Les Kiss.

Nick Timoney lifts the Leinster Schools Senior Cup Timoney lifts the 2014 Leinster Schools Senior Cup trophy. Source: Colm O'Neill/INPHO

The signing of Timoney, who is part of Niall Woods’ Navy Blue client list, adds another player of rich promise to their future back row options.

Timoney won eight caps for Ireland at U20 level last season, playing in their Six Nations and World Rugby U20 Championship campaigns, starting games in each of the three back row positions.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora has spoken positively about the movement of players between provinces since taking up his position last year. Although Timoney was never contracted to Leinster, Nucifora is likely to view this move as an encouraging one.

Indeed, the prospect of more inter-provincial transfers in order to ensure a more even spread of the strength in depth in certain positions, both at academy and senior level, would appear to be the way forward for Irish rugby.

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Murray Kinsella

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