Hanrahan set to leave Clermont and join Dragons in the summer

Former Munster outhalf to join Newport-based Welsh side on a three-year contract

JJ Hanrahan in action for Clermont against Toulon. He has made 11 appearances in the French Top 14 to date this season, Photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/ AFP via Getty Images

JJ Hanrahan has been linked with a move from Clermont Auvergne to the United Rugby Championship (URC) side the Dragons for whom he is reputed to have signed a three-year contract. He is expected to link up with the Welsh franchise this summer.

The 29-year-old Currow native joined Clermont from Munster last summer on a one-year contract with the option of a second year. He was signed by the club’s then head coach Franck Azema, who left to take over the director of rugby role with Toulon, and was replaced by Jono Gibbes, once of Leinster, Ulster and La Rochelle.

Clermont recently signed a couple of outhalves for next season, one of whom is 12-times capped French international Anthony Belleau. The 25-year-old put pen to paper on a three-year contract last month and will move from Toulon next summer.

Hanrahan has made 11 appearances for Clermont in the French Top 14 to date this season, battling for the 10 jersey with experienced 31-year-old French international Camille Lopez.


The Kerryman took up rugby aged seven with Castleisland RFC before attending Rockwell College and would go on to represent his country at several age-grade levels.

He played with Munster from 2012-2015 before signing for the Northampton Saints in 2015 but his stay at the English club was greatly hampered by injury, and he ended up moving between outhalf and inside centre.

He returned to Munster in 2017 and during his two spells made 142 appearances for the province, scoring 743 points. He played 16 times for the Ireland Under-20 team and was shortlisted for World Junior Player of the Year in 2012.

It came as something of a surprise that he left for Clermont last summer as he had Munster head coach Johann van Graan’s preferred outhalf during the long term absence of Joey Carbery. Hanrahan will compete with Sam Davies for the primary outhalf position at the Dragons.

The Rodney Parade club has also been linked with a move for Ulster’s South African born, Welsh international hooker Bradley Roberts, who earned a surprise call-up for Wayne Pivac’s side during the Autumn Nations Series.

Roberts, who qualified for Wales through a grandparent, made his international debut against the Springboks. He will have to move to a Welsh franchise if he wants to continue his international career.

Meanwhile Jared Payne appears to be heading for Clermont Auvergne. Ulster's defence coach is leaving at the end of the season and is set to link up with a familiar face in Gibbes; the two worked together briefly at the Irish province in the 2017-2018 season.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer