Everything you need to know about Ulster's newest signing Jordi Murphy
Jordi Murphy says joining Ulster is a 'great opportunity' as the province confirm that the Ireland flanker will move to Kingspan Stadium on a two-year deal next summer.
The move had been heavily rumoured on Tuesday and was rubber-stamped by Ulster on Wednesday morning. Murphy, 26, follows hot on the heels of Wasps prop Marty Moore, who will also join Ulster in 2018.
Hooker Rob Herring and lock Kieran Treadwell also signed new three-year deals last week, along with centre Luke Marshall, but there is still plenty of important business to be done.
Iain Henderson, Rory Best and Jared Payne are all out of contract this summer, although their negotiations would all be carried out either by, or in conjunction with, the IRFU given that Best and Payne are on central contracts and Henderson will require an upgrade.
Others with expiring deals include Craig Gilroy, Tommy Bowe and Darren Cave.
Everything you need to know about Jordi Murphy's move to Ulster
Name: Jordi Murphy
History: Murphy came through Blackrock College, helping the school to Leinster Junior Cup and Leinster Senior Cup titles. He has made 95 appearances for Leinster and earned 18 caps for Ireland, the most recent coming against Fiji last month. He played in all five of Ireland's Six Nations fixtures in 2015 and 2016 and after an anterior cruciate ligament injury, he returned to international action against Fiji in November.
Career highlights: Played in every match during Ireland's victorious 2015 Six Nations campaign. Scored the opening try during Ireland's historic win over the All Blacks in Chicago last year. Named Leinster Young Player of the Year in 2013.
Form: He has made nine appearances for Leinster this season since returning from injury in September, scoring two tries, most recently in the 10-36 win in Benetton last weekend. He has also played once for Ireland and once for the Barbarians this season.
What Murphy said
"It's been an incredibly hard decision to leave Leinster, where I have made some great friends and enjoyed some fantastic times, but I am excited by the prospect of moving north and linking up with some familiar faces.
"Having considered my options at length, I realise that this represents a great opportunity for me to challenge for a position at Ulster and hopefully become a more regular feature in the national set-up.
"Ulster is building a strong squad for next season and I'm really looking forward to the new challenge. However, I am fully focused on contributing as best I can for Leinster for the remainder of the current campaign.”
What Belfast Telegraph rugby reporter Jonathan Bradley said
What Ulster Director of Rugby Les Kiss said
"Jordi has been on our radar for the past 12 months and it took a lot of hard work between his agent and Bryn (Cunningam, Operations Director, Ulster Rugby) to get this completed. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of interest in Jordi and we are really pleased that he has chosen to ply his trade here in Belfast.
"The acquisition of Jordi for next season is great news for everyone connected with Ulster Rugby and I believe this move will greatly benefit both parties.
"He's an extremely talented player; an explosive runner and a nuisance at the breakdown, while his versatility allows him to play across the back row. At 26 years of age, we believe Jordi has the potential to play the best rugby of his career at Ulster and that is a hugely exciting prospect.
"As injuries are becoming increasingly common in the modern game, it's imperative that we continue to expand the playing resources we have available. With Marty (Moore) also on board, plus the return to fitness of Marcell Coetzee, we have added some much-needed depth to our pack for next season.
"The increased investment in our Academy forwards is starting to pay off and five of those in our current system - Nick Timoney, Adam McBurney, Aaron Hall, Greg Jones and Matthew Dalton - have played for the senior team already this season. That's another positive sign for the future of rugby in Ulster.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital