Seán O’Brien’s big money move to London Irish confirmed
Leinster and Ireland flanker will join English club after World Cup in November
Sean O’Brien has agreed a three-year deal with London Irish. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Seán O’Brien has agreed to join London Irish following this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan, on a three-year contract reported to be worth €420,000 per annum.
The Tullow native, who turns 32 on Thursday, had been on a centralised contract with the IRFU, but the union decided against extending the deal. His age and injury profile over the past couple of seasons were undoubtedly a consideration.
O’Brien will link up with a couple of familiar faces at London Irish in former Ireland coach and now director of rugby with the Exiles Declan Kidney and head coach Les Kiss while Paddy Jackson is also expected to move from Perpignan in the summer.
Leinster and London Irish officially confirmed the deal on Monday afternoon following a week of speculation. O’Brien returned to the starting Ireland team to win his 54th Ireland cap in the victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. He toured twice with the British & Irish Lions to Australia (2013) and New Zealand (2017) playing in five of the six test matches.
“”This is one of the hardest decisions that I have ever had to make. I have played all my rugby in Ireland,” O’Brien said on Monday.
“With Tullow, with Leinster and with Ireland and to move from the place I call home and that I love so much, was not easy.
“That being said, I feel that the time has come to explore other opportunities, to challenge myself at a new environment, in a new city, with a new club and against different players and teams on a weekly basis. London Irish and what they are about is a club that I feel I can grow with and also contribute to and I feel that they have a set up and an ethos that will make me feel at home.
“For me and the time I have left here in Ireland, I want to stay fit and healthy and finish out the season with a strong Six Nations with Ireland and then turn my attention to Leinster and hopefully a seat on the plane to Japan.”
Exiles coach Declan Kidney added: “Recruitment is an on-going process, and we are always on the lookout for players of Sean’s ability. Sean has proven himself time and time again to be a quality player who sets very high standards for himself and those around him, he leads by example and has a winning mentality.
“We are delighted that Sean wants to come and be a part of our journey as we move back into West London at the new Brentford Community Stadium in August 2020 after he has finished his commitments to Leinster and Ireland at the end of this year.”
Sean O’Brien at Leinster
Debut: Sep 2008 (v Cardiff)
Honours: European Champions Cup (2009, 2011, 2012), Pro14 (2013, 2014), 2011 European Player of the Year, 2011 Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year