Munster close in on signing of tighthead prop Jager from New Zealand

Munster close in on signing of tighthead prop Jager from New Zealand

MUNSTER ARE UNDERSTOOD to be closing in on the signing of tighthead prop Oli Jager, who has been playing with the Crusaders in New Zealand since 2017.

The former Ireland U18 international grew up in Kildare and came through Naas RFC, Newbridge College and Blackrock College, winning the 2013 Leinster Schools Senior Cup with Blackrock, but missed out on a place in one of the provincial academies.

Jager subsequently travelled to New Zealand to take part in the Crusaders’ international academy programme and impressed enough to be invited to return and play club rugby with New Brighton in the city of Christchurch.

Jager enjoyed an impressive rise through Kiwi rugby as he starred for Canterbury in the Mitre 10 Cup, then advanced into the Crusaders set-up and was involved in their prolific success in Super Rugby. He also played for a New Zealand Barbarians team against the British and Irish Lions in 2017.

There were opportunities for Jager to return to Irish rugby in the past but he turned down a previous approach from Munster as he chased international honours with the All Blacks.

Jager was due to play for the All Blacks XV – New Zealand’s second-string senior national team – in Dublin in November 2022 but was ruled out of that clash through injury.

And the 28-year-old appears to have had a change of mind in terms of his international allegiance now, with Munster believed to be close to copperfastening the addition of Jager, who could join imminently.

The tighthead was left out of the Crusaders’ Super Rugby squad for the upcoming season after being granted an early release from his contract, which was due to expire after the 2024 campaign, and Munster look set to benefit.

Leinster may also be on the lookout for a new signing at tighthead prop at present, with Michael Ala’alatoa linked with a move to Top 14 side Clermont in the French media this week.

Ulster are currently without their two leading tighthead props in Marty Moore and Tom O’Toole, both of whom are sidelined, but they are expected to make their returns over the coming month.

It appears that Munster may finally get their man in Jager, who they have been tracking for several years.

The experienced Stephen Archer and John Ryan are the two main tighthead options in Munster at the moment, with both named in the matchday squad against Ulster tomorrow night. 35-year-old pair Archer and Ryan are out of contract at the end of this season and it remains to be seen if their deals are extended.

26-year-old tighthead prop Roman Salanoa is currently sidelined with a knee injury but had been making good progress until his knee issue and his contract runs until 2025.

The other tighthead in the Munster senior squad is 24-year-old Keynan Knox, who hasn’t featured yet this season. His contract is due to expire at the end of this season and it’s understood he could leave the province.

Having played for the Crusaders more than 50 times in Super Rugby, Jager will now continue his professional career in Ireland, where he will hope to come into the mix for Andy Farrell’s senior squad.

Tadhg Furlong, Finlay Bealham, and O’Toole were the three tighthead props included in Ireland’s squad for the recent World Cup.

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