Leinster duo Dunne and O’Loughlin to join Exeter Chiefs

Adam Byrne, Dooley and Hawkshaw set to follow Murphy by switching to Connacht

While Leinster continue their daily confirmation of players who have signed new deals, there appear to be several outgoings as well, with lock Jack Dunne and centre Rory O'Loughlin en route to Exeter Chiefs next season, while Adam Byrne, David Hawkshaw and Peter Dooley are set to follow Josh Murphy in joining Connacht.

The 23-year-old Dunne, a 6ft 8in tight-head side, has completed his move to Exeter with O’Loughlin set to follow.

Dunne is a product of St Michael's, Trinity and the Leinster academy but, despite subsequent overtures from Connacht, has chosen to go through with his move to Exeter having made 17 appearances for Leinster to date.

This follows on from the departure of Murphy, a lock-cum-blindside, to Connacht and the anticipated retirement of Devin Toner at the end of the season, which has only been offset by the signing of once-capped Springbok Jason Jenkins from Munster.


The 28-year-old O'Loughlin, who has played 91 times for Leinster over the last six seasons, and won one cap for Ireland, is also set to join Exeter.

The 27-year-old Byrne, who has also won one cap for Ireland, returned this season after almost nine months on the sidelines due to serious hamstring/quad injuries and has scored four tries in four starts – thus taking his tally to 24 tries in 64 appearances for Leinster.

A switch to Connacht looks a good move both for Andy Friend's team and the athletic and quick Byrne, and similarly a prospective move west could also lead to more game time for the 27-year-old Dooley, albeit the Birr native and Lansdowne club man has nonetheless played 99 times for Leinster.

While The Irish Times understands all those deals are done, it could also be that Hawkshaw will be heading to Connacht.

The 22-year-old former Dublin minor hurler who won back-to-back Leinster Schools Cups with Belvedere before playing for the Irish Under-20s and coming through the Leinster academy, can play both outhalf and centre.

Meanwhile, continuing their daily confirmation of three more players agreeing new deals, Leinster have confirmed that current Irish squad members Dan Sheehan and Ryan Baird along with Harry Byrne are the latest trio of players to sign new contracts with the province.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times