Leinster Rugby have announced their squad for the 2007/08 season, confirming their new signings, the players who have been bumped up from development contracts and also those to be retained in the province’s Academy system.
As well as the re-signing of Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings from the Leicester Tigers, Argentina prop Juan Francisco Gomez, South African international front row forward Andre-Henri ‘Ollie’ Le Roux and Connacht’s Irish-qualified tighthead prop Stephen Knoop will be joining the province for next season.
Gomez, who enjoyed a spell on loan with Stade Français last season, joins from Los Matreros and has signed a two-year deal while the 54-times capped international Le Roux has signed a one-year deal from Super 14 side the Cheetahs.
Knoop joins from Connacht on a two-year deal while the likes of Devin Toner, Kevin McLaughlin and Richie Leyden have all been rewarded with professional contracts.
Meanwhile, in the backline, scrum half Chris Keane, who hails from Skerries in North Dublin, joins from Connacht on a two-year deal while Cillian Willis, Jonathan Sexton and Ross McCarron have also been awarded professional contracts.
All 12 of the Leinster representatives who featured on the Ireland Under-20 Grand Slam-winning squad have been signed up in the Leinster Academy for next season – Cian Healy, Richard Sweeney, Jamie Hagan, Ruaidhri Murphy, Conor McInerney, Kevin Sheahan, Sean O’Brien, Paul O’Donohoe, Ian Keatley, Shane Monahan, Felix Jones and Kyle Tonetti.
Work on the new stand in Donnybrook commenced this week while the move to the RDS is expected to be formally announced in the coming days. Season Tickets are expected to be available online on www.leinsterrugby.ie following that announcement.
Leinster Rugby would like to acknowledge the conclusion of the Bank of Scotland (Ireland) partnership – the province look forward to welcoming their new sponsors Bank of Ireland on board for next season and beyond. Meanwhile, Leinster have extended their contract with Canterbury of New Zealand until the end of the 2008/09 season.
Concluding the press release, Leinster Rugby thanked all the departing players for their contribution to the province over the last season and, in many cases, beyond and they wished them all the very best of luck with their future careers.
LEINSTER Squad (2007/08):
BACKS: Chris Whitaker, Cillian Willis, Chris Keane*, Felipe Contepomi, Jonathan Sexton, Gordon D’Arcy, Brian O’Driscoll, Christian Warner, Michael Berne, Shane Horgan, Denis Hickie, Rob Kearney, Gary Brown, Girvan Dempsey, Luke Fitzgerald, Ross McCarron
FORWARDS: Ronan McCormack, Stanley Wright, Bernard Jackman, Brian Blaney, Ollie le Roux*, Stephen Knoop*, Juan Francisco Gomez*, Trevor Hogan, Leo Cullen*, Malcolm O’Kelly, Devin Toner, Des Dillon, Stephen Keogh, Cameron Jowitt, Richie Leyden, Shane Jennings*, Keith Gleeson, Kevin McLaughlin, Jamie Heaslip
TRANSFERS OUT: Andrew Dunne, John Lyne (both Connacht), Kieran Lewis, Niall Ronan (both Munster), Owen Finegan (Leicester Tigers), Robert Sweeney, Stephen Grissing (both Rotherham), Adam Byrnes, Harry Vermaas (undisclosed), Reggie Corrigan, Guy Easterby, Will Green, Ciaran Potts (all retired)
* = new signing