Leicester prop in Ireland frame


NEWS ROUND-UP:GERT SMAL has admitted “we are keeping close tabs” on the highly-regarded, dual-qualified, 20-year-old tighthead Kieran Brookes, who has signed for Leicester Tigers on a three-year deal from Newcastle Falcons.

Stoke-born Brookes has played for Ireland at Under-18, 19 and 20 levels, but last season played for the English Under-20s in the Six Nations. In two seasons at Newcastle, he made 34 appearances, with five starts and appearing off the bench 15 times for them in the Aviva Premiership this season before being snapped up by Leicester, having reputedly also attracted the interest of Leinster, Munster and Ulster.

He represents both a good short-term and long-term investment for the reigning English champions and Premiership finalists, as the Tigers are set to lose Martin Castrogiovanni to Italy, Dan Cole to England and Marcos Ayerza to Argentina during the World Cup.

Schooled in Perth, Australia and Grahamstown, South Africa, Brookes played with Fylde for 10 years from the age of nine, and in May 2009 he helped Lancashire to win the County Championship at Twickenham, before turning professional with the Falcons. Originally a hooker, who lists Keith Wood as his rugby hero, he has played across the frontrow, and until he at least plays for the Saxons or Wolfhounds, will not be committed to either country.

“He is a very good prospect and we are keeping close tabs on him,” said Smal. “Now we want to see how he goes with Leicester.”

In Ulster, Jeremy Davidson, who stepped down from his position as forwards coach a few days ago, will take up a head coaching position in France next season. The former Ireland secondrow, who has had spells with Castres Olympique as both a player and coach, will take charge of Second Division side Aurillac next season. Davidson had been linked with a job with Moseley.

Ulster are not actively seeking a new forwards coach. Former Springbok lock Johann Muller, who signed a one-year contract extension this week, currently provides Ulster with international experience up front and calls their lineouts, while head coach Brian McLaughlin is primarily a forwards coach, with Neil Doak in charge of the backs.

Munster’s Denis Leamy has received the all clear after a scan on the neck injury that forced him to retire against Ospreys, while Declan Cusack and Ian Nagle are all expected to train this week having been forced out of a Munster development game.

Munster also announced this week that Ian Costello will take over as Munster A coach in place of Anthony Foley, who will be senior squad forwards coach from the start of next season.

In addition, the former UL Bohemians player will be skills coach with responsibility for the senior and Munster A squads.