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Leinster prop McGrath agrees shock Ulster switch

Ireland prop Jack McGrath will leave Leinster at the end of the Pro14 season and join rivals Ulster, the provinces have announced.

McGrath has played over 140 games for Leinster since making his debut in 2010, the forward winning three European Champions Cups, a European Challenge Cup, two Pro12 titles and a Pro14 crown.

The 29-year-old has also established himself as a key member of Joe Schmidt’s squad, winning three Six Nations titles – including the Grand Slam in 2018.

McGrath – who was part of the 2017 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand – admitted the decision to leave Leinster was a tough one, but one he felt would benefit his chances both at club and international level in the future.

“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,” said the forward.

“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 I’m 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.”

Ulster – who were beaten by Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-finals on Saturday – are understandably thrilled to have acquired the services of McGrath.

“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,” said head coach Dan McFarland.

“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.”

Irish Rugby’s performance director David Nucifora added: “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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