Springbok and Ireland lock

Springbok lock Jean Kleyn previously played for Ireland. Photo: PA and www.independent.ie.

Ireland to kick Springbok out, despite Munster’s wish to keep him

Jean Kleyn will reportedly be forced to leave Munster at the end of the season as a result of opting to play for his home nation, the Springboks at the World Cup.

Springbok and Ireland lock

Springbok lock Jean Kleyn previously played for Ireland. Photo: PA and www.independent.ie.

Munster look set to lose the services of Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok lock Jean Kleyn to a French club at the end of the season.

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Kleyn joined Munster from the Stormers in 2016 and have become one of the club’s most influential and beloved players in the years since.

He qualified for Ireland based on the three-year-residency law and went on to feature in all five of his adopted nation’s Tests at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. But his continued non-selection by new Ireland coach Andy Farrell followed, saw him switch allegiance back to South Africa after getting called up by Springbok bosses Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus earlier this year.

Kleyn is now a World Cup winner, having helped the Springboks successfully defend their Webb Ellis Cup trophy in France a fortnight ago.

But his decision to play for the Springboks has added a thick layer of difficulty to his playing situation in Ireland.

The second row’s current contract with Munster expires at the end of the season, but his situation has become complicated since his transfer back to his native South Africa for Test rugby, which has seen him now designated as a non-Irish qualified (NIQ) player.

With Kleyn now no longer eligible for Ireland, it potentially impacts Munster’s ability to keep him at the province beyond the current season, with speculation growing in recent days that his name is on a shopping list of several French Top 14 clubs, including Lyon.

According to Midi Olympique, Lyon has identified Kleyn as their top target to replace outgoing lock Romain Taofifenua, who is set to join Racing 92.

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But despite it becoming increasingly likely that the Springbok is on his way out of Irish rugby, Munster head coach  Graham Rowntree has revealed the club has no given up hope of finding a loophole in the regulations to help them retain Kleyn on their books and he says the province will do everything they can to keep the World Cup winner in Limerick next season.

“I’d say that last week in May after the final – or it may have been early June – that Jean Kleyn committed himself to South Africa he became an NIQ, a non-Irish qualified player,” Rowntree said.

“He knew, we knew, all parties knew, that it was going to be challenging keeping hold on him but those contract negotiations are ongoing and I can’t really comment any more on them.

“Of course [we’d like to keep him], of course, he was so important for us last season, look at the minutes he played.

“We knew it was going to be a challenging situation but hopefully we will get a bit more clarity on that soon enough, but it would be wrong for me to comment any more on it.”

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Springboks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman give the thumbs up
Springboks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman. Photo: SA Rugby website.