Leinster fans savouring prospect of RG Snyman and Jordie Barrett in blue

Province targeting two wins on South African tour before return for Champions Cup semi-final against Northampton

Leinster supporters had already been musing on the prospect of RG Snyman next season adding his unique gifts to the side that dethroned La Rochelle last Saturday at a capacity Aviva Stadium. Now they can also salivate at the prospect of the multifaceted, multipositional Jordie Barrett joining the province next December on a short-term deal.

Currently on a sabbatical from the NZRU, as part of the 27-year-old agreeing a new deal to play for the All Blacks, the Hurricanes and Taranaki until the end of 2028, Barrett has also agreed to a six-month contract with Leinster for the second half of next season.

Barrett’s father and mother — Kevin and Robyn — moved to Ballinacree in Meath, where they were managing a dairy farm, in the autumn of 1999. While living there for 18 months, his father (aka “Smiley”), a former Taranaki and Hurricanes lock, also played with Buccaneers. As a child, Barrett — along with his brothers Kane, Beauden and Scott — attended St Fiach’s National School.

So, the move ticks several boxes, in that Barrett is also seeking to use his sabbatical to improve his game before the 2027 World Cup.


“It’s a special place for the Barrett family,” he said. “We’ve got so many great family connections in Oldcastle, in Co Meath and throughout Dublin. To have an opportunity to go back and meet some family and friends and connections that were made 20 years ago is pretty cool.”

This high-profile signing suggests Charlie Ngatai may be moving on after an injury-troubled season. It also has echoes of Brad Thorn joining Leinster on a three-month contract in 2012 when he became the first player to win the World Cup, a Super Rugby crown and the Heineken Cup.

Leinster were understandably happy to announce the signing of Barrett, and Dan Sheehan’s upgrading to a two-year IRFU central contract, but they have been coy about the squad of 30 or so to travel to South Africa for their upcoming URC games against the Lions in Johannesburg and the Stormers in Cape Town.

However, Garry Ringrose (shoulder), Hugo Keenan (hip) and Ross Byrne, who was withdrawn with a minor leg injury in steering Leinster to their 40-13 win over La Rochelle, will not travel.

Leinster lead the URC table by five points from Glasgow as they seek top seeding for the knock-out stages again, and potentially a quarter-final in the Aviva followed by a semi-final and final in Croke Park as the former is being used for the Europa League final.

Backs coach Andrew Goodman said that Leinster were targeting two wins for the first time from what he described as a hugely important tour to South African tour, before they return for their Champions Cup semi-final against Northampton at Croke Park.

He will return after the first game, and Jacques Nienaber during the second week, whereas Leo Cullen will remain for the duration. The tour comes on the back of a huge lift for the organisation with last Saturday’s win over La Rochelle.

“There was a bit of edge about last week, there always is in finals week but finals week against La Rochelle, with what’s happened over the last couple of years, it was probably a little bit more of an edge. But I think the boys controlled that emotion really well throughout the week and really focused on the day-to-day process in training and meetings and stayed really engaged. Man, they really put some work in, the players, and they had a performance off the back of it, which was the most pleasing thing.”

Goodman does not believe there is a danger of Leinster not reaching that emotional pitch against Northampton.

“No. As I said, we were happy and it was great to win that game, but we know where we want to be and we’ve got the opportunity against Northampton to get to the big dance, to give ourselves an opportunity. “They’re a top of the Premiership team and man, I’ve enjoyed watching them, I’ve been watching them right from the start of the year because I think they’ve got some great attack, their back line in particular, I’ve taken a lot of notice of them.

“So, I’ve got to flip it over to the other side and see how they defend and the opportunities for us now, get deep around that, and get prepared for a big one a couple of weeks down the track.”

Goodman attended the All Blacks’ win over Ireland in Croke Park in 2008 and was there as a supporter to watch the 2013 All-Ireland hurling final between Clare and Cork, although blissfully unaware of the GAA’s liking for replays, felt a little cheated by the draw.

“I couldn’t believe it at the end there was no extra time!”

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times