Munster were close to signing World Cup winner Du Toit before Jenkins deal

MUNSTER WERE CLOSE to sealing the signing of 2019 World Rugby player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit before eventually securing the services of Springboks-capped forward Jason Jenkins ahead of next season.

Jenkins will join the province from Toyota Verblitz in Japan this summer on a one-year deal, but Munster initially had strong hopes of securing the services of du Toit, who would have joined fellow 2019 World Cup winners Damian de Allende and RG Snyman at the province.

CJ Stander’s surprise decision to retire at the end of the current season meant Munster went into the market for a powerful back row player.

The42 understands that Munster had provisionally agreed a one-year contract with du Toit that would have been worth more than €600,000 and strongly supported by private investment, as in the case of de Allende and Snyman, the Springbok pair who joined the province on two-year deals last summer.

However, it’s understood that IRFU performance director David Nucifora was not willing to sanction such a big-money deal amidst the sweeping financial cuts many players in Munster and the rest of the country are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With the IRFU unwilling to give the green light on a deal to bring in du Toit, Munster are believed to have subsequently identified Jenkins as an ideal, and more affordable, solution to bring size and power to their options up front next season.

While 25-year-old Jenkins has played the majority of his rugby in the second row for the Bulls in South Africa and Toyota Verblitz in the Japanese Top League, it’s thought that Munster have made assurances to the IRFU that he will be used at blindside flanker. 

28-year-old du Toit, who was strongly in demand, is now expected to sign for Toyota Verblitz, who currently have Michael Hooper, Kieran Read, and Willie le Roux in their squad, while former All Blacks boss Steve Hansen is their director of rugby.

As for Munster, they are looking forward to the arrival of 6ft 7ins and 125kg Jenkins, who is highly-rated in South Africa and previously played in the second row with Snyman for the Bulls, who attempted to bring Jenkins back on board ahead of their Pro16 campaign next season.

The talismanic Stander’s unexpected retirement does leave Munster with a sizeable gap in their back row, with the signing of Jenkins expected to add ballast up front.

Captain Peter O’Mahony recently signed a two-year IRFU central contract extension, while Jack O’Donoghue confirmed a new two-year provincial deal.

Gavin Coombes, who has enjoyed a major breakthrough season, will hope to succeed Stander as the starting number eight having also signed a two-year contract.

With Tommy O’Donnell out of contract this summer, South African openside Chris Cloete and 22-year-old Jack O’Sullivan are the other senior back row options, although academy flanker Jack Daly will move onto a senior contract next season. 

Munster’s academy also includes the promising openside John Hodnett – currently sidelined after an Achilles tendon rupture – and Alex Kendellen, who recently made his Pro14 debut.

Munster already have Snyman, Tadhg Beirne, and Jean Kleyn in their second row stocks, while the promising Fineen Wycherley and Thomas Ahern will hope for increased game time following Billy Holland’s retirement this summer.

Ahern’s new two-year senior contract was confirmed today and there are high hopes for the Waterford lock. Munster’s academy also includes second rows Eoin O’Connor and Paddy Kelly, while Cian Hurley is expected to join following his recent Pro14 debut.

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