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Dublin: 10°C Monday 19 April 2021

'We wanted him to stay but we are happy and we'll keep developing players'

Tighthead prop Roman Salanoa moved from Leinster to Munster this summer.

LEINSTER SAY THEY respect tighthead prop Roman Salanoa’s “personal decision” to move to Munster this summer and will continue to focus on producing players through their own academy, according to assistant coach Felipe Contepomi.

22-year-old Hawaii native Salanoa made his Leinster debut last year and earned three senior caps in total but opted to switch to Munster ahead of next season.

paddy-mcallister-hakes-hands-with-roman-salanoa-after-the-game Roman Salanoa has moved to Munster this summer. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

After playing for the USA U20s team, former high school American footballer Salanoa initially had a trial Leinster in 2016 and joined the province’s sub-academy in 2017, while linking up with club side Old Belvedere RFC.

The explosive prop developed rapidly and was promoted into Leinster’s full academy, making his senior debut off the bench against Ulster last December.

He spoke to Connacht about a move west next season but initially opted to remain with Leinster, who understood the 125kg prop would be in their squad as they looked towards the 2020/21 season.

However, that situation changed again and Salanoa agreed terms with Munster, with the IRFU understood to have strongly encouraged Salanoa to make the move.

Leinster remain well stocked at tighthead with Ireland internationals Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter, the experienced Michael Bent, and 24-year-old Vakh Abdaladze, while the promising Tom Clarkson is part of their academy.

Contepomi says there is no ill will after the loss of a player Leinster felt had been secured into next season only for the late switch to Munster.

“It was more a personal decision than us,” said Contepomi yesterday. “We wanted him to stay but we are happy and we will keep developing players. We are developing guys now with the squad we have and it is about trying to develop young players and bring them up to speed.

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“Roman made his decision and we can’t judge him. It is just a personal decision. He knows the reasons why. It is a good environment for them to develop here and become the best they can be.

“Maybe he didn’t see that that was his case in Leinster but I like to think we are creating a good environment for people to thrive and get to their best. Hopefully there will be other guys in line who will take his place.”

dan-sheehan Dan Sheehan is one of five players promoted from the academy. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

With academy tighthead Jack Aungier also having left for Connacht, Clarkson will certainly be hoping his progress with Leinster is accelerated in the coming years.

Meanwhile, Leinster have promoted five players from their academy into Leo Cullen’s senior squad this summer.

Ryan Baird and Harry Byrne have already trained with Andy Farrell’s Ireland, underlining their major potential, but Leinster are also excited about second row Jack Dunne, outside back Tommy O’Brien, and hooker Dan Sheehan.

“They are very young and developing, so some guys like Ryan or Harry are already in the spotlight and you have seen them,” said Contepomi.

“Not every guy can explode at 20 or so. You have to develop them and they are really good prospects – really, really good prospects in terms of fitness and physicality. Jack is huge, Dan the same.

“They are good players and sometimes they take a bit longer to get into the scene but I am sure they will get there because they are really hard workers and they are going in the right direction.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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