Munster Rugby sign Springbok second-row and confirm six contract extensions

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Munster Rugby sign Springbok second-row and confirm six contract extensions

Jason Kenkins in action for the Blue Bulls in Super Rugby Picture: Munster Rugby

MUNSTER Rugby has confirmed the signing of South African second-row Jason Jenkins as well as six contract extensions.

As flagged by the Limerick Leader on Monday, Jason Jenkins will join the province ahead of the 2021/22 season on a one-year deal.

The announcement comes following confirmation of CJ Stander’s upcoming retirement.

The South African, who can play in the back or second row, is currently playing with Toyota Verblitz in the Japanese Top League. 

Before that he represented his home club the Bulls over four years, lining out with current Munster player RG Snyman, and is widely recognised for his strong ball-carrying abilities.

A former South African ‘A’ and U20s player, the 25-year-old made his Springboks debut in 2018 against Wales.

Speaking about the signing of Jason Jenkins, van Graan said: “We’ve had to manage CJ’s recent news and look at what’s needed across our back row next season with Billy who provides cover there also retiring at the end of June.

“I’ve seen Jason’s progression through the South African ranks and while he was highly sought after, I am delighted he will be joining us this summer as I know he will make a great addition to the squad.

“Everyone is aware of the level of players we’re losing from the pack and Jason brings the required level of professionalism, physicality, and athleticism that we can draw on as he competes for his place next season.”

Munster Rugby also confirmed contract extensions for senior players Fineen Wycherley and Diarmuid Barron and senior contracts for the Academy quartet of Jack Daly, Josh Wycherley, Thomas Ahern and Jack Crowley.

Fineen Wycherley has continued to be a key member of Johann van Graan’s squad after making 15 appearances this season before he suffered an injury against the Scarlets in March.

A product of Bantry Bay RFC, the former Academy Player of the Year’s form also saw him called up to the wider Ireland training squad ahead of the Autumn Nations Cup. The 23-year-old, who has made 56 appearances for the province playing across the second and back row, signs a two-year deal.

Diarmuid Barron graduated to the senior side last summer after spending two years in the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy. During that time, the product of Cashel RFC and Rockwell College made seven appearances while still in the Academy. The 22-year-old has made four appearances this season with the hooker most recently making his first start against Benetton in Thomond Park.  Barron has signed a one-year contract extension.

Looking at the Academy players, the trio of Jack Daly, Josh Wycherley and Thomas Ahern all progress from their final year while Jack Crowley will advance after one year in the programme.

Daly made his senior debut against Zebre in November and followed that up with his second appearance for the province against Benetton in March.

The Kerry native joined the Academy in 2018 after the product of Castleisland RFC worked his way up through the provincial underage ranks at U18, U19 and U20 levels. The 22-year-old back row plays his club rugby with Garryowen and has represented Ireland at Sevens and U20s level. He has put pen to paper on a one-year contract.

Following in his brother’s footsteps, Josh Wycherley is enjoying a breakthrough season after making his senior debut against the Cardiff Blues in October.

The loosehead prop has made nine appearances for Munster this season. A product of Bantry Bay RFC, he earned his first European start against Clermont Auvergne in December, playing a starring role in the province’s comeback victory. The 21-year-old featured for Ireland U20 during the Grand Slam-winning Six Nations campaign in 2019 and signs a two-year contract.

Waterford native Thomas Ahern, who has also signed up for two years, made his senior debut against the Dragons in November. The product of Dungarvan RFC and Waterpark RFC played a standout role in Ireland’s U20 campaign last year.

He scored his first senior try for the province in his first start against Zebre at the end of November. Ahern has made six appearances for Munster to date and most recently the 21-year-old lock, while paired with 20-year-old Cian Hurley, became Munster’s youngest starting second row combination in the professional era.

Jack Crowley’s rise continues after making his senior debut against Ulster in Belfast in January as a first year Academy player. The Innishannon man followed that up with his second appearance against the Scarlets in March.

A product of Bandon RFC and Bandon Grammar, the out-half starred for the Ireland U20s in 2020, scoring 36 points in three games as Ireland clinched the Triple Crown before the campaign was cut short. The 21-year-old plays his club rugby with Cork Constitution and advances to the senior ranks on a two-year deal.

Commenting on the contract extensions and Academy promotions, Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “We are delighted to bring through this next crop of talented players.

Throughout this season in particular we have seen where and how they all add value when taking their opportunities at Munster ‘A’ and senior level.  It’s exciting to oversee their continued progression as this group of ambitious young players strive for success in the red jersey and commit their futures to Munster Rugby.”

Speaking about the signing of Jason Jenkins, van Graan added, “We’ve had to manage CJ’s recent news and look at what’s needed across our back row next season with Billy who provides cover there also retiring at the end of June.

“I’ve seen Jason’s progression through the South African ranks and while he was highly sought after, I am delighted he will be joining us this summer as I know he will make a great addition to the squad.

“Everyone is aware of the level of players we’re losing from the pack and Jason brings the required level of professionalism, physicality, and athleticism that we can draw on as he competes for his place next season.”