Ranking the top 10 interprovincial transfers in Irish Rugby 10 months ago

Ranking the top 10 interprovincial transfers in Irish Rugby

Jack McGrath's move to Ulster was the latest in a long line of interprovincial transfers with the Ireland international joining a host of fellow ex-Leinster players at the club.

The defending European champions have undoubtedly been a huge supplier of talent to the other provinces but they have also taken in a couple of imports with Sean Cronin and Robbie Henshaw serving as high profile examples of successful acquisitions by the province.

The competition for places in the Irish team has created a culture in Irish Rugby where it is more accepted for players to move from province to province as most move in search of increased game time to improve their chances of earning a spot in Joe Schmidt's squad.

Even at a younger age, we're seeing the likes of Nick Timoney, Paul Boyle, Conor Oliver, Cian Kelleher and Stephen Fitzgerald all move to try and catch a break in a provincial first team.

While the likes of Niall Ronan and Jerry Flanney serve as historic examples of the benefits of interprovincial transfers, here we rate the top 10 transfers in the current climate of Irish Rugby.

10. Sam Arnold 

Arnold has impressed since moving to Munster from Ulster in 2016 and has become an important squad player for the club and was named as the 2018 Munster Rugby Young Player of the Year last April.

Arnold has been stuck behind Rory Scannell at inside centre for the meaningful games but has looked very aggressive and abrasive when he's been given the opportunity and could feature more as he continues to develop in Limerick. A blue chip prospect and one to watch over the coming years.

9. Nick Timoney 

Timoney moved from the Leinster academy to the Ulster academy in the 2015-16 season and has excelled since moving to Belfast winning the club's Academy Player of the Year last year.

An Ireland seven's representative, Timoney has scored six tries in 46 games for Ulster and played very well against Leinster last weekend with nine carries and 21 tackles in a huge shift in the back-row.

At 23, he still has a lot of years ahead of him and he could make Leinster regret not keeping him when they had the chance.

8. Quinn Roux 

Connacht second-row Quinn Roux has excelled since leaving Leinster in 2015 and the 28-year-old has developed into a starting second-rower for the club and a player that has now earned the trust of Joe Schmidt.

Roux initially moved to the club on loan but has since joined the westerners on a permanent deal and at 28 looks like a great buy and second-row partner for Ultan Dillane.

Should make the Ireland World Cup squad later this year.

7. Jack McGrath

A significant coup by Ulster for next season and a player that should still have a lot left to offer. At 29, McGrath is a 54-cap Ireland international and a British & Irish Lion.

Eric O'Sullivan has been outstanding for Ulster this season and in many respects is quite unfortunate to have a player of McGrath's caliber coming to challenge him but it's ultimately a great signing for Ulster who have added another very solid piece to an improving forward pack.

6. Jordi Murphy

One of the big reasons why that Ulster pack is improving is because of the likes of Murphy, who has been tremendous this season.

The former Leinster number eight was phenomenal for the European champions towards the end of last season and has continued to perform for Ulster with a huge shift at the weekend that included 17 carries and 22 tackles. At 27, Murphy is in the prime of his career and should still have a good few years ahead of him making him a great buy for Ulster.

5. Andrew Conway 

Conway has been absolutely terrific for Munster and was a massive part of why they qualified for last year's Champions Cup semi-finals with his weaving run against Toulon pivotal in Johan van Graan's side securing the victory.

Conway has scored 37 tries in 111 games for Munster, a ratio of one try for every three games. Munster's all-time leading try scorer Simon Zebo had a ratio of 41 tries for every 100 games so Conway is right in the same ball park as Munster's finest ever finisher.

Despite making his Leinster debut back in 2010, Conway is still only 27, and looking at what the Munster strength & conditioning team have been able to do with 31-year-old Keith Earls over the last few years, if the club are able to keep him, he could be one of the best signings they've ever made.

4. Sean Cronin

Cronin is one of the few players in Irish Rugby to have played for three out of the four provinces but the Limerick born hooker's best days have undoubtedly come in blue.

Cronin joined Leinster in 2011 and since then has gone on to become a regular in the province's senior team and the national team while also winning Champions Cup and PRO12 and PRO14 titles with the blues.

He's also been one of their most prolific try scorers this season with 12 tries in 12 games and has been an integral part to their success over the decade.

3. Robbie Henshaw

Robbie Henshaw just edges Cronin here, as although Cronin has been highly productive, Henshaw is still just 25-years-old and has already been selected by the British & Irish Lions.

He has been injury prone throughout his career but he was arguably Leinster's best player last season up until his shoulder injury.

If he can stay on the field, Leinster should have a gem and their starting inside centre for most of the next decade, and although he's missed the last few weeks with a dead leg, he's shown before that he can get up to speed very quickly with his performance against the Scarlets last year a remarkable effort given that he had missed the previous couple of months through injury.

2. John Cooney

John Cooney

Although Henshaw was selected for the Lions two years ago, Cooney went from a player that was tasked with filling the impossibly large boots of Ruan Pienaar to Ulster's Player of the Season last year.

He's been immense for the northern province since joining them from Connacht where he was stuck behind Kieran Marmion and was the PRO14's leading points scorer last season with 160 points, 28 points clear of second placed Carlo Canna.

Furthermore, he's become a real leader on this Ulster team which will be desperately needed when Rory Best soon leaves the stage.

At 28, Cooney still should have a lot of years ahead of him to play his best rugby and he'll be a vital cog in any progress Ulster make from here.

1. Joey Carbery 

Carbery was the highest points scorer of the Champions Cup pool stages and he's been electric for Munster.

To think at the start of the season there was still a conversation over whether or not he was a fly-half. Johan van Graan has backed him and helped him improve his game.

At times he can still be a little raw with some of his decision making but in the open field he is deadly and his goal-kicking has improved ten-fold.

At 23, Carbery could conceivably play at 10 for Munster for another decade and you have to assume based on what we've seen already that he's only set to improve from here, which if that is the case, would make him an incredible buy for Munster and a monumental loss for Leinster.