Leinster prop Jack McGrath confirms Ulster switch

29-year-old Ireland loosehead to swap Dublin for Belfast ahead of the 2019-20 season

Jack McGrath will leave Leinster for Ulster at the end of the season. Photogrpah: Elena Barbini/Inpho

Jack McGrath will leave Leinster for Ulster at the end of the season. Photogrpah: Elena Barbini/Inpho

 

Ireland prop Jack McGrath is to leave Leinster at the end of the season to join Ulster.

Lions loosehead McGrath has made more than 140 appearances for Leinster and has 54 Ireland caps, but has recently struggled for playing time due to injuries and the resurgence of Cian Healy.

And he has opted to follow in the footsteps of Jordi Murphy and move to Belfast for the start of the 2019-20 season.

In a statement released on Tuesday morning, he said: “This was a difficult decision but one I believe will put me in the best position to continue to perform at the top end of the game.

“I have enjoyed a huge amount of success at Leinster but I feel that looking beyond the World Cup to the next phase of my career I will benefit from the opportunity within the Ulster environment.

“I am now fully fit after a disrupted start to the season and am looking forward to putting all my energy into helping Leinster’s drive to defend the European and Pro14 titles and finishing this season on a high.”

After a difficult period Ulster have enjoyed a solid 2018-19 campaign, with the province pushing defending champions Leinster all the way in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals last weekend, losing 21-18 at the Aviva Stadium.

Jack McGrath featured in all three Tests during the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Jack McGrath featured in all three Tests during the 2017 Lions tour to New Zealand. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

And head coach Dan McFarland has welcome the arrival of another Ireland international to Ravenhill, he said: “We are delighted to be welcoming Jack on board next season, and it is hugely encouraging to see a player of his calibre express the desire to join us.

“Jack’s quality on the field is undoubtable, and his experience of playing at the highest level will be a hugely valuable asset to the club as we continue to develop a promising group of young forwards.”

Meanwhile IRFU performance director David Nucifora, said: “Jack has made a very tough decision which he believes will advance his case for selection for Ireland. You have to respect a player with such ambition.

“Leinster is a fantastic environment but it is testament to the work that all four provinces are doing that players are seeking opportunities within Ireland to advance their international careers.”

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