Munster hardman Jean Kleyn has ruled out playing for his native South Africa and would relish the chance to play for Ireland if the opportunity arose.
The 24-year-old Krugersdorp-born second-row has made a big impact at the province since joining the two-time European champions from South African Super Rugby side Stormers in July 2016.
Highly physical and a powerful ball carrier who is excellent in the lineout, the 6’8″, 19-stone behemoth has become one of Munster’s key players.
But despite the fact that the man who brought him to Limerick – Rassie Erasmus – is now the Springboks’ director of rugby, Kleyn, who becomes eligible for Ireland in September 2019 under residency, has ruled out representing the land of his birth.
He told Sky Sports:
“When I moved over I knew full well that my career wouldn’t be continued in South Africa.”
And having put down his roots on the Emerald Isle, he admitted that if any Irish call-up came, he would love to pull on the green shirt.
“I’ve laid down my roots here and I’m pretty intent on just staying here and if it happens that I do get the call-up to the Irish squad in the future, I’d love to play, but obviously that’s not set in stone or anything like that.”
A self-described ‘late bloomer’ Kleyn, who made 18 appearances for the Stormers and 24 appearances in the Currie Cup for Western Province, never represented the Springboks at age-grade rugby nor at under-20 level.
A consistent performer, he must be on Joe Schmidt’s radar and if he can continue his fine form, a future call-up is a possibility.
He would further strengthen Ireland in the second-row department where they already boast the likes of Iain Henderson, Devin Toner, James Ryan and Ultan Dillane.
With Kleyn qualifying for Ireland at the start of September 2019, although unlikely, could he even make a last minute dart for the 2019 World Cup, which starts on September 20?
Hefin Jones, Pundit Arena
Read More About: 2019 Rugby World Cup, Devin Toner, iain henderson, Ireland national rugby team, james ryan, Jean Kleyn, Joe Schmidt, munster rugby, Rassie Erasmus, springboks rugby, Stormers rugby, Ultan Dillane, Western Province rugby