Leinster announce triple boost ahead of next season
Leinster confirm Steven Sykes, Matt Berquist Jamie Hagan will join the club ahead of next season
Leinster have announced a trio of new signings to strengthen their squad ahead of next season.
The Magners League side have poached Sharks lock Steven Sykes, fly-half Matt Berquist from Cantebury Crusaders and Connacht prop Jamie Hagan.
Sykes and Hagan have both agreed three-year deals while Berquist has signed a one-year contract with the option for a further year.
Opting to swap King’s Park for Ireland was a difficult for 26-year-old second-row Skyes, who has established himself at the Sharks as one of the top locks in Super Rugby.
“Of course it was not an easy decision to make,” said Sykes. “I don’t for one second want anyone to think I am unhappy here or unhappy at the Sharks. I have played over 130 games for the Union and loved every minute of it.
“However I believe that it will be very good for my rugby to make the move and I am looking forward to the experience of playing in European conditions week-in and week-out, learning about their way of playing – which I think will suit me.
“Leinster is a leading European club, regularly challenging for top honours, and I can’t wait to be involved.”
Front-row forward Hagan, 23, returns to his home province and the club he played for at Academy level.
He has made 23 appearances for Connacht this season and 46 in total since he joined the club in 2009.
Hagan said of his move east: “I am delighted to be heading back home to Leinster and I am looking forward to the new challenges that I will face.
“I’m looking forward to pushing on from my experience in Galway to make an impact when I return to Leinster in the summer.”
Berquist, 27, also joins Leinster after spells at Hawke’s Bay, Otago, Auckland and most recently at the Crusaders.
The natural goal-kicker made his provincial debut in 2003 and has played 21 times at Super 14/15 level.
Berquist will be eyeing up more starts after playing second fiddle to Dan Carter at Saders but will have to oust Irish No10 Jonathan Sexton.
“I have always been keen to test myself in Europe and the Magners League and Heineken Cup competitions will certainly provide a real challenge,” said Berquist.
“I am delighted to join an ambitious club who are on the up. Leinster have a strong reputation in New Zealand and I am excited by the opportunity to test myself in a new environment.”
Leinster coach Joe Schmidt said of his acquistions: “We are pleased to have secured all three players and I am sure that they will prove to be strong additions to the side over the coming seasons.”