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11th Feb 2018

Gerbrandt Grobler set for switch to Aviva Premiership

Patrick McCarry

Seven months after signing for Munster, Gerbrandt Grobler has made his senior debut for the province.

The South African lock, signed from Racing 92 last summer, came on for the final 20 minutes of Munster’s bonus point victory over Zebre at Thomond Park.

Replacing Dave O’Callaghan with Munster 26-5 in front, Grobler made a couple of decent carries and stuck five of the six tackles he attempted. His entry onto the field of play saw him receive rapturous applause and cheers.

Grobler served a two-year ban for anti-doping offences but resumed his playing career with Racing in 2016 before securing the Munster switch. His presence at the province, especially when he neared full fitness and bean full-contact training, caused considerable upheaval.

His appearances for Munster ‘A’ in January were met with a storm of criticism and divided opinion across the land. For Munster’s part, they signed a player who had served his time and was fully repentant about his actions. Soon after they named Grobler on their bench for the Zebre game, they released a statement that, in part, read:

“While some hold the view that rugby should provide no road-back for those that have taken a banned substance in the past, it would not be within the spirit and values of rugby to turn its back on every person that ever made a bad decision, having made restitution.”

Grobler has now made four appearances for Munster [one friendly, two ‘A’, one Guinness PRO14 match] and, fitness and form depending, he will be up for selection consideration until the end of this season.

After that, however, it would appear that Grobler will leave the province, and Ireland.

Munster are bringing in Scarlets [and former Leinster] lock Tadhg Beirne this summer and have high hopes for the likes of Fineen Wycherley and Sean O’Connor, currently on academy deals. It was always likely that the South African was just at Munster until the arrival of Beirne, who was on a two-year deal with league champions Scarlets.

Grobler looks to have his next club lined up, however. SportsJOE understands that he has been lined up for a move to Aviva Premiership side Gloucester.

A mainstay of the Premiership for the past two decades, Gloucester have former Ulster outhalf David Humphreys as director of rugby. They currently have the likes of Jeremy Thrush, Ed Slater and Tom Denton in their second row department but are in the market for more quality. By all accounts, Grobler would be a good signing for them.

Gloucester were in the market for him last year but could not secure a work permit for him so the deal fell through. They will try again to sort out the permit and there appears to be confidence that the deal can be done.

There has been no official confirmation of the switch but Grobler’s time at Munster looks to be up by the end of May. It will have been a short but eventful stay in Ireland.

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