Leinster announce signing of Michael Alaalatoa from Crusaders 3 weeks ago

Leinster announce signing of Michael Alaalatoa from Crusaders

The Blues are starting to make some moves.

Hot on the heels of Nick McCarthy returning to Leinster, from Munster, comes the signing of Michael Alaalatoa from the Crusaders.

The 29-year-old, who has five Test caps for Samoa, is the brother of Wallabies forward Allan Alaalatoa and son of Vili Alaalatoa, who also represented Samoa. His last outing for Manu Samoa was against Ireland at the 2019 World Cup.

Alaalatoa, who was born and raised in Sydney, made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2014. He moved to the Crusaders in 2016 and enjoyed considerable success there. He was part of a squad that won the Super Rugby title on three occasions and the Super Rugby Aotearoa championship last year when the Super Rugby season was cancelled, due to Covid-19.

During his time in Canterbury, he would have been coached by former Munster and Ireland outhalf Ronan O'Gara. He won 89 caps for the Crusaders, including five of their Super Rugby Aotearoa games so far this season. Speaking to the Leinster Rugby website, Alaalatoa said:

"It is a huge honour to be given the opportunity to join Leinster Rugby. They have enjoyed a lot of success for a long time and have produced a lot of Irish internationals which speaks highly of their rugby programme and team culture.

"It is something that I am really excited about being a part of and I am looking forward to starting a new adventure in Dublin with my family."

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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen says all at the club are excited at the signing of the 126 kg and six-foot-three prop. "He is a player with top quality Super Rugby and international experience," says Cullen, "and he is hungry for further success and to play a part in building on the work that is already underway here.

"We have a group of younger props who will only benefit from his experience and we believe the wider group will also learn a lot from Michael and his rugby knowledge from playing with the Crusaders in particular. We look forward to welcoming him and his family to the club later this summer."

Earlier in the day, it was confirmed by the club that scrumhalf Nick McCarthy was heading back up the road from Munster after a short spell there.

Munster, meanwhile, confirmed that long-time openside Tommy O'Donnell will retire from the game at the end of the current season.