THE IRFU HAVE revealed that Sean O’Brien will be staying in Ireland until at least June 2016.
The official confirmation of the Leinster back row’s new contract has outlined a two-year duration for the man who has won 30 caps for Ireland and was named ERC Player of the Year in 2011.
O’Brien has become possibly the most important player for both Leinster and Ireland over recent seasons, with this deal coming as sheer relief for those involved in rugby on this island. The 26-year-old admitted that his decision to stay in Ireland was not an easy one, but underlined that the Leinster fans had played a key role in him remaining loyal.
It is flattering to find yourself the subject of interest from some of the biggest rugby clubs in the world but in the end I made a decision based on the standard mix of professional and personal considerations.
“It was a very difficult decision but, with a World Cup next year and the fact that I believe Leinster can continue to win trophies, I have decided to commit my immediate future to the club.
“I am very excited about what Ireland can achieve under Joe Schmidt and I am confident that, under Matt O’Connor, Leinster will remain the power in Europe it has been over the past 5 or 6 years.
“I want to acknowledge the professionalism of all those involved, including the overseas clubs with whom I had discussions, and thank Leinster and the IRFU for their commitment to me. Finally a word about the Leinster fans because their “voice” represents an important consideration for players like me when it comes to making big career decisions such as this.”
O’Brien is not walking away from Irish rugby. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
O’Brien has developed into perhaps the most complete openside flanker in Europe in recent seasons, with his breakdown work, ball carrying, defensive power and mental strength combining to make him a man respected across the rugby world.
IRFU CEO Phillip Browne was understandably thrilled to see the Lions flanker put pen to paper.
Sean is one of world rugby’s stand out talents. He has proven for Leinster, Ireland and the Lions that he is world class player and we are delighted that Sean has committed his future to Leinster and Ireland for the next two years.”
Meanwhile, Leinster have expressed their own relief at being able to hang onto O’Brien for another two years. Although a shoulder dislocation, and subsequent operation, means the Carlow man will be sidelined for the next fours months, his commitment to the province is a landmark moment.
“We are delighted that Sean has signed a new IRFU contract which keeps him at Leinster up to the end of the 2016 season. We were always hopeful that the environment we have created here at Leinster and the ambition of the club would be a strong factor in Sean’s decision.
“He is a truly world class player and we are delighted that his future has now been put to rest.”