Leinster have confirmed the make-up of their playing squad for the 2010/11 season, with Isaac Boss and Ed O’Donoghue on their way south from Ulster, Isa Nacewa signing a new deal and South African prop Heinke van der Merwe also joining the province.
In addition to the signings of Ireland duo Isaac Boss (scrum half) and Ed O’Donoghue (lock) from Ulster on two and three-year contracts respectively, Leinster have also completed a two-year deal with South African international prop Heinke van der Merwe from Super 14 side, the Lions.
Ireland Under-20 full-back/winger Andrew Conway has signed his first professional contract, while six other Academy graduates – Brendan Macken, Jack McGrath, Niall Morris, Rhys Ruddock, Paul Ryan and Eoin Sheriff – have each signed Development contracts with the senior set-up
In addition to these new contracts, versatile back Isa Nacewa has signed a new three-year deal with the province.
Leinster hope to complete one further back-five forward signing in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, the province’s coaching team has also been completed for the coming season.
Fresh from his involvement in Clermont Auvergne’s Bouclier de Brennus success, Joe Schmidt takes over as head coach in a new coaching team which will include Jono Gibbes as forwards coach and Richie Murphy, whose role has been expanded to incorporate skills as well as kicking responsibilities.
Former Leinster and Ireland scrum half Guy Easterby takes over the position of team manager following his involvement with the province’s British & Irish Cup and ‘A’ teams in recent years, thus ensuring continuity in the new coaching ticket.
Ex-New Zealand prop Greg Feek has signed a deal to become the Leinster squad’s consultant scrum coach.
Capped 10 times for the All Blacks between 1999 and 2001, the former Taranaki, Canterbury and Tasman front rower has been forwards coach for the Wellington Hurricanes since 2008.
Leinster Chief Executive Mick Dawson commented: “I am delighted to welcome our new signings on board and I’m confident that each will make a significant impression on the squad both next season and in the years ahead.
“All of the players come with impressive pedigrees and they will supplement a squad which has been further bolstered by six Academy players who have signed Development contracts with the province.
“We are delighted by the talent coming through the Academy system and it is encouraging both for Leinster and Irish rugby that such a strong crop of underage talent are being rewarded in the next step in their careers.
“It is an exciting time for the province and I would like to formally acknowledge the significant impact of our departing coaches and backroom team members. We wish them well with their future careers.”
He added: “Greg Feek joins the province having accrued impressive playing and coaching credentials in New Zealand and he will supplement a coaching team which will draw on the experience of Jono, Richie and Guy, who have all been involved in the senior set-up over the last two years, while Joe joins us after guiding Clermont to the French Championship.”
In a further boost, Leinster have announced record sales of over 12,500 Season Tickets for the new season.
In 2005 there was 2,700 Leinster Season Tickets holders and this had increased to over 7,500 with the move to the RDS for the 2007/08 season when Leinster lifted the Magners League title. Last year’s Heineken Cup win boosted figures to 10,800.
Leinster will face London Wasps in a pre-season friendly at Donnybrook in an evening game on Friday, August 20, and travel to England to face Leicester Tigers at Welford Road a week later on Saturday, August 28.
LEINSTER Squad (2010/11 Season):
Backs (17) – Shaun Berne, Isaac Boss, Andrew Conway, Gordon D’Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Shane Horgan, David Kearney, Rob Kearney, Brendan Macken *, Fergus McFadden, Niall Morris *, Isa Nacewa, Paul O’Donohoe, Brian O’Driscoll, Eoin O’Malley, Eoin Reddan, Jonathan Sexton.
Forwards (22) – Leo Cullen, John Fogarty, Jason Harris-Wright, Cian Healy, Jamie Heaslip, Nathan Hines, Trevor Hogan, Shane Jennings, Stephen Keogh, Ronan McCormack, Jack McGrath *, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Ed O’Donoghue, Mike Ross, Rhys Ruddock *, Paul Ryan *, Eoin Sheriff *, Richardt Strauss, Devin Toner, Heinke van der Merwe, Stan Wright.
* Denotes Development Contract