Ireland back row Jordi Murphy agrees to join Ulster from Leinster from next season
Last Updated: 06/12/17 6:44pm
Ireland back row Jordi Murphy has agreed to join Ulster from Leinster for the start of the 2018/19 season in a two-year deal.
Murphy, 26, recently returned to action after 10 months out with an anterior cruciate ligament injury and earned his 18th cap against Fiji last month.
The Irish Rugby Football Union's policy of restricting foreign players means Ulster have had to look bringing Irish-qualified talent to Belfast.
Current Ulster head coach Jono Gibbes coached Murphy for three seasons at Leinster, while the flanker also worked with director of rugby Les Kiss when he was Ireland's defensive coach.
Murphy has played 95 times for his Dublin-based province, scoring 17 tries, since his debut in September 2011.
"Jordi has been on our radar for the past 12 months and it took a lot of hard work between his agent and Bryn (Cunningham, Ulster operations director) to get this completed," said Kiss.
"Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of interest in Jordi and we are really pleased that he has chosen to ply his trade here in Belfast.
"The acquisition of Jordi for next season is great news for everyone connected with Ulster Rugby and I believe this move will greatly benefit both parties.
"He's an extremely talented player; an explosive runner and a nuisance at the breakdown, while his versatility allows him to play across the back row. At 26 years of age, we believe Jordi has the potential to play the best rugby of his career at Ulster and that is a hugely exciting prospect."
The Fiji game was his first game in green since the historic win against the All Blacks in Chicago in November 2016.
"It's been an incredibly hard decision to leave Leinster, where I have made some great friends and enjoyed some fantastic times, but I am excited by the prospect of moving north and linking up with some familiar faces," Murphy said.
"Having considered my options at length, I realise that this represents a great opportunity for me to challenge for a position at Ulster and hopefully become a more regular feature in the national set-up.
"Ulster is building a strong squad for next season and I'm really looking forward to the new challenge. However, I am fully focused on contributing as best I can for Leinster for the remainder of the current campaign."