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Irish lock Beirne turns down 'very good' contract offer from Scarlets to return home

The 25-year-old will join Munster from next season.

TADHG BEIRNE HAS turned down a ‘very good’ contract offer from Pro12 champions Scarlets to join Munster in a bid to pursue his international aspirations with Ireland.

Tadhg Beirne Beirne joined the Scarlets in June 2016. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The 25-year-old second row, one of the outstanding performers during the Welsh side’s title win last season, has already signed a deal to bring hime back to Ireland, paving a way for him to be selected by Joe Schmidt for the first time.

Speaking at this morning’s Champions Cup launch in Dublin, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac revealed they can no longer stand in Beirne’s way having done all they could to retain his services beyond the current campaign.

“We’ve moved on, we’re looking at another second row to replace Tadhg,” Pivac told The42.

“He won’t be with us next year, we’ve had that conversation. Obviously sad to see him go because he’s been great for us but if it doesn’t work out for him in Ireland then we’ll be happy to have him back at the drop of a hat.

“We tried to keep him and we put a very good contract in front of him but it’s not about the money for Tadhg. It’s about the opportunity to play for his country and I respect that.”

Beirne, who joined the Scarlets following his release from Leinster in June 2016, has been identified by the IRFU as long-term successor to replace Donncha Ryan at Munster with conversations reportedly taking place as early as last May.

Pivac had previously spoken of his desire to tie Beirne down to a new two-year deal at the Parc y Scarlets but the Kildare native’s ambition to play for Ireland meant the opportunity to return home was impossible to turn away — even with a big offer on the table in Wales.

The former Ireland U20s lock was immense for Scarlets last season and played a starring role in their sensational Pro12 final victory over Munster at the Aviva Stadium, while also beginning this term in similar vain.

Tadhg Beirne is presented with the Guinness PRO14 man of the match award by Howard John He was named man of the match in the Pro14 win over Edinburgh at the start of this season. Source: Kevin Barnes/INPHO

Having brought Beirne to Scarlets when he was deemed surplus to requirements at Leinster 18 months ago, Pivac admitted his development as a player has been remarkable.

“He’s just got better and better,” the Kiwi explained. “He didn’t have the greatest pair of hands on him when he got here but now he’s fit in really well. He works hard on his game, extras after training and that sort of thing. Very determined to do well.

“He’s a big engine, he goes all day long as he’s very fit. He can play in more than one position, he can play in the second row or the side of the scrum. He’s good aerially and very, very strong in the upper body and you see that when he’s in that breakdown contests.

“He picks his battles and goes in hard over the ball, great body position and immensely strong in the upper body so very hard to move. Quite often he’ll get a straight turn over, not just a turnover penalty for us.

“I suppose the question on him at international level is would he be big enough? Look I just hope he gets the opportunity to do that as he’s desperate to do that. I hope he does get the opportunity and we’ll know the answer to the question.”

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Ryan Bailey

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