MUNSTER head coach Johann van Graan says new signing Arno Botha will add strength and depth to Munster’s back-row resources when the Springbok arrives in July on a one-year contract.
Botha is the fourth new signing for next season with fellow forward Tadhg Beirne set to join from Scarlets, full-back Mike Haley moving from Sale Sharks and scrum-half Neil Cronin inking professional forms from Garryowen.
Botha leaves London Irish who are cutting back on their playing staff after being relegated from the Premiership and he links up once again with his former boss van Graan.
“In building our squad for next season I believe Arno will be a great addition to our side, adding further depth and strength to our back row options,” said Van Graan.
“From my time with the Bulls and South Africa I have first-hand experience of what Arno is capable of. A physical ball carrier and lineout jumper, he leads by example with his work-rate, commitment and physicality, and we look forward to welcoming him to the province.”
Botha will be seen as a direct replacement for Connacht-bound Robin Copeland, who is set to leave at the end of the season, and will join a back-row pool at Munster of Ireland internationals Peter O’Mahony, CJ Stander, Tommy O’Donnell and Jack O’Donoghue as well as fellow South African Chris Cloete and homegrown players Dave O’Callaghan and Conor Oliver.
Johnny Sexton looks unlikely to recover from his groin problem in time to take on Munster in the Guinness PRO14 semi-final tomorrow, 3.15pm, but Leinster hope to have captain Isa Nacewa available.
Ross Byrne will most likely start in Sextons’s place.
Meanwhile, in the sixth annual Ulster Bank League awards there were two Cork winners.
Alex McHenry excelled in Cork Constitution FC’s run to the Division 1A final and claimed the Division 1A Rising Star of the Year. In a historic year for UCC RFC, Paul Kiernan was selected as the Division 1B Player of the Year for his role in leading the College to Division 1A for the first time.