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Ireland back row Sean O'Brien to join London Irish after World Cup

The deal could be officially announced as early as next week.

IRELAND AND LEINSTER back row Sean O’Brien will join London Irish after this year’s World Cup. 

The possibility of the move was first reported by Rugbypass but The42 has now confirmed with sources in Ireland that 31-year-old O’Brien has agreed a move to Declan Kidney’s Premiership-bound side for later this year. 

The deal could be officially announced as early as next week. 

Sean O'Brien O'Brien is set to sign for London Irish next season. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

O’Brien is currently on a central IRFU contract but turns 32 this month and, as such, the union were unwilling to extend his deal for another two or three years.

London Irish have made a lucrative offer worth more than €400,000 per season that is understood to be similar to the terms of the IRFU contract he will conclude in November.

Leinster have strong back row options like Josh van der Flier, Rhys Ruddock, Dan Leavy and Jack Conan, as well as emerging young talent such as Caelan Doris, Scott Penny and Max Deegan, meaning the province is in a good position to deal with the loss of the experienced O’Brien next season.

London Irish are currently top of the Championship and expected to seal their return to the Premiership by the end of the campaign.

Former Ireland head coach Kidney is director of rugby at the Exiles, while ex-Ireland defence coach Les Kiss is the club’s head coach.

It is expected that Ireland international out-half Paddy Jackson will also sign for the club this summer as they gear up for their return to the top tier of English rugby.

The42 understands O’Brien’s future move will not have any impact on his status as part of Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad through until the World Cup.

When Paul O’Connell had agreed on a move to Toulon for after the 2015 World Cup, he continued to be picked by Ireland as a centrally-contracted player and it’s believed 53-times capped O’Brien will be considered in the same manner by Schmidt.

The highly-experienced O’Brien has toured twice with the British and Irish Lions, in 2013 and 2017, starting all three Tests against New Zealand on the latter trip. 

The IRFU told The42 that it doesn’t comment on any speculation around player contracts.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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