Scarlets second-row Tadhg Beirne will return to his native Ireland next season after agreeing to a two-year deal with Munster, the club have confirmed.
The versatile 25-year-old who can also play at flanker, turned down a ‘very good’ offer from the current PRO12 champions, in order to chase his dream of playing for his country. His decision to return to Ireland will make him available for selection by national coach Joe Schmidt.
Former Leinster man Beirne, who joined the West Walians in 2016, was a key figure in the Scarlets’ outstanding march to the title last season and has carried his outstanding form into this season, currently topping the turnovers won chart on 13.
It is a big blow to the Welsh region who currently top conference B, after winning four out of five of their opening games.
But Scarlets coach Wayne Pivac, speaking at the Champions Cup launch on Monday in which the Scarlets will face Toulon, Bath and Benetton Treviso, admitted that they had conceded defeat in their efforts to keep the highly-rated forward in Wales.
“We’ve moved on, we’re looking at another second-row to replace Tadhg,” the former Auckland coach said.
Whilst obviously sad to lose one of his prize assets, Pivac left the door open for Beirne to return to Wales in the future if things didn’t work out in his homeland,
“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”.
Highlighting the fact that they had done everything they could to keep the Eadestown-born star tabling a very good contract offer, Pivac expressed that he understood Beirne’s reasons for deciding to return to Ireland,
“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”.
Excellent in the lineout, outstanding at the breakdown, and a strong ball carrier with a huge engine, Beirne’s return to the Emerald Isle is a big shot in the arm for Irish rugby.
The 6ft 7in, 16st 7lbs lock has been earmarked by the IRFU as a long-term successor to fill the boots of Donnacha Ryan at Munster with Ireland’s top rugby brass having reportedly been in talks with him since last May.
Beirne will have big boots to fill in the form of former Munster legend Ryan, who joined Racing 92 this season after 13 years at Thomond Park.
And based on his meteoric rise to the top after being discarded by Leinster after only making four appearances for them, it would be a foolish man who bets against Beirne pulling on the green shirt in the future.
Update: Munster Rugby has today confirmed the news stating that Beirne has signed a two-year contract which begins from the 2018/2019 season onwards. You can read the full statement from Munster Rugby here.
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