Following on from the news of new IRFU central contracts for Cian Healy, Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton, Leinster Rugby have confirmed that an additional 18 contracts have been signed by players at the province ahead of the 2019/20 season.
One name missing from the list is fullback Rob Kearney whose IRFU contract runs until the end of the World Cup in Japan.
Last month the 33-year-old revealed that he was in discussions with the union but that progress was slow.
Included in the list of 18 is the former Blues winger Cian Kelleher, who left the Leinster Academy in 2016 to join Connacht and has since scored 14 tries in 54 appearances.
Prior to joining Connacht, he had played seven times for Leinster, scoring one try against Zebre in the RDS.
Kelleher made his Leinster debut in BT Murrayfield against Edinburgh in the last game of the 2014/15 season and is eager to return to the place where it all started for him.
"I’m incredibly excited to get back to my home province this summer and get started in an unbelievable set up in Leinster," said Kelleher who joins younger brother Ronan in the squad following his promotion from the academy.
"It was an opportunity too good to refuse when it came up and I can’t wait to get started and compete in an extremely competitive environment. I hope to add to the incredible success the province has had in the last couple of seasons."
Leinster Rugby boss Leo Cullen praises grassroots work
Included in the list of 21 players are eight Irish internationals with 294 caps between them and three British & Irish Lions and head coach Leo Cullen was keen to highlight the work done at the grassroots level that got each of the players to this position.
"It is a credit to the work that goes on in the schools and in the clubs that we are in a position to confirm 21 new contracts, with all but three coming through the system here," said Cullen.
"Over the last ten months or so we have been able to hand debuts to nine Academy players and they have deserved those opportunities. And now seven players that started this season in the Academy will start next season as senior players.
"I am delighted for them and indeed their families and congratulate them on their promotion.
"We have been very happy with what we have seen from them all in the Guinness PRO14 and in some cases in the Heineken Champions Cup and we hope that they get many more chances in a Leinster jersey in the coming years.
"It is also exciting to welcome Cian back to Leinster Rugby.
"We have always kept a close eye on his progress at Connacht and it’s great that we can now welcome him back to Leinster and we wish him well in what is already a very competitive position in the team."
Leinster Rugby – New Senior Contracts 2019/20:
1. Bryan Byrne, 41 Leinster Caps (LC), 12 Leinster Tries (T)
2. Jack Conan, 14 Ireland Caps (IC), 88 LC, 21 T
3. Max Deegan, 45 LC, 11 T
4. Scott Fardy, 39 Australia Caps, 43 LC, 9 T
5. Ciarán Frawley, 14 LC, 1 T
6. Jamison Gibson-Park, 70 LC, 15 T
7. Cian Healy, 2 British & Irish Lions Caps (BIL), 88 IC, 2017 LC, 22 T
8. Robbie Henshaw, 4 BIL, 37 IC, 36 LC, 7 T
9. Dave Kearney, 17 IC, 136 LC, 29 T
10. Hugo Keenan, 5 LC, 1 T
11. Cian Kelleher, 7 LC, 1 T
12. Rónan Kelleher, 2 LC
13. Dan Leavy, 11 IC, 63 LC, 16 T
14. Fergus McFadden, 34 IC, 178 LC, 27 T
15. Luke McGrath, 10 IC, 112 LC, 29 T
16. Josh Murphy, 21 LC, 1 T
17. Conor O’Brien, 17 LC, 6 T
18. Jimmy O’Brien, 7 LC, 3 T
19. Hugh O’Sullivan, 14 LC
20. Scott Penny, 6 LC, 2 T
21. Johnny Sexton, 14 BIL, 83 IC, 159 LC, 25 T
Academy Players Promoted to Senior Squad;
1. Ciarán Frawley
2. Hugo Keenan
3. Rónan Kelleher
4. Conor O’Brien
5. Jimmy O’Brien
6. Hugh O’Sullivan
7. Scott Penny
Leinster Rugby – Departees 2018/19:
1. Tom Daly, 12 LC, 2 T
2. Mick Kearney, 51 LC, 1 T
3. Nick McCarthy, 35 LC, 4 T
4. Jack McGrath, 7 BIL, 54 IC, 145 LC, 12 T
5. Ian Nagle, 19 LC
6. Seán O’Brien, 11 BIL, 56 IC, 126 LC, 20 T
7. Noel Reid, 1 IC, 121 LC, 17 Tries
*Statistics correct as of 20th May 2019
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