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Hawaiian tighthead Salanoa set for switch from Leinster to Munster

The 22-year-old prop played for Leo Cullen’s side three times this season.

HAWAIIAN TIGHTHEAD PROP Roman Salanoa is set to switch from Leinster to Munster ahead of next season.

The powerful 22-year-old made his first three senior appearances for Leinster this season but The42 understands that he will continue his development with Munster from the 2020/21 campaign onwards.

It’s believed that Leinster are frustrated with the IRFU over the circumstances of the switch, with Salanoa initially having looked set to stay with the eastern province after rebuffing a possible move to Connacht.

paddy-mcallister-hakes-hands-with-roman-salanoa-after-the-game Salanoa played for Leinster three times this season. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Leinster had been keen to hold onto Salanoa, who weighs in at close to 125kg and possesses major strength and power.

He initially considered a switch to Connacht, with the IRFU believed to have favoured that possible move. Salanoa opted against moving west and Leinster understood he would be remaining with them into next season.

However, that situation changed in recent weeks and Salanoa is now set to move to Limerick next season to join Munster, with the IRFU understood to have strongly  encouraged the Hawaii native to make the move.

Leinster are thought to be frustrated at losing a player they have worked to develop since his arrival in Ireland, particularly given that it appeared Salanoa would be remaining with them after the Connacht discussions ended.

Leinster have lost of a number of players to other provinces in recent seasons. Joey Carbery’s transfer to Munster caused huge frustration, with Leinster angered by the IRFU’s involvement.

Former USA U20 international Salanoa, who has Samoan ancestry, hails from the Hawaiian island of Oahu and previously excelled in American football at high school level, earning an All-State selection.

He took up rugby in his final year of school and swiftly earned a USA U20 call-up in 2016 despite still being just 18.

Salanoa secured a week-long trial with Leinster later that year and then returned to join the province’s sub-academy for the 2017/18 season, while linking up with club side Old Belvedere.

roman-salanoa Salanoa is an explosive athlete. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

The 6ft prop has made promising progress ever since and, having advanced into the full academy, earned his senior Leinster debut off the bench against Ulster in the Pro14 last December, as well as further replacement appearances against Connacht and Cheetahs before the season was suspended.

Despite his USA U20 caps, Salanoa could be eligible to play for Ireland from this summer, when he will have completed three years of residency. He arrived in Ireland before the change to five-year residency came into effect.

In Munster, Salanoa will add to the depth behind senior tightheads John Ryan and Stephen Archer.

Academy tighthead Keynan Knox, a 21-year-old South African who qualifies for Ireland later this year, has already made his senior Munster debut and is highly-rated within the province.

It’s unclear whether tightheads Brian Scott and Ciaran Parker will remain with Munster into next season.

Salanoa will eagerly learn from Munster forwards coach Graham Rowntree, who is regarded as a scrum expert.

As for Leinster, Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter remain their frontline tightheads, with Michael Bent an important squad player.

24-year-old Vakh Abdaladze and 21-year-old academy prop Jack Aungier both got senior playing minutes this season too, while Ireland U20 tighthead Tom Clarkson is another highly-rated prospect in Leinster’s academy.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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