Another Munster blow as James Cronin set for Premiership switch

Another young Irish international is on his way to the English Premiership with Munster loosehead James Cronin very close to signing for a club there.

A source close to the player confirmed yesterday the deal was ‘75% done’ and the Ballincollig native is set to move across the water in the summer.

And in a further Munster blow, former academy lock Ian Nagle is set to join Leinster in the summer when he returns after a two-year break.

It is understood Nagle, 27, who is finishing an MBA business course at Cambridge, has agreed terms with Leinster. Munster were among a number of clubs interested in the lock.

The Buttevant native, who came up through the ranks with Munster, made 28 appearances for them. He last featured in December 2013, before he moved on loan to Newcastle in the English Premiership. Injury halted his progress in the UK before he decided to make a clean break from the game.

His return to professional rugby will now be with Leinster after agreeing terms with them this week.

Meanwhile, Tyler Bleyendaal’s ongoing injury woes have forced Munster to seek further medical consultations for their player after the fly-half fell prey to further quad problems. Bleyendaal, 25, has been restricted to just five appearances this season following his recovery from a serious neck injury that ruled him out of the entire 2014-15 campaign following his arrival from Canterbury.

“It is a frustrating for all of us now at the moment,” head coach Anthony Foley said. “It is a frustration for the lad and we are going to get to the bottom of this, try and get him up and running.

“I think to be fair to him and to be fair to everyone around the squad as well we need to investigate it and we are doing that.”

With Ian Keatley again struggling for form off the tee, missing two critical kicks in the first-half against Stade Francais last weekend, Foley could do with former New Zealand U20 World Cup-winning captain Bleyendaal offering competition in the number 10 berth.

“On the positive side” Foley continued “Johnny Holland played for Cork Con at the weekend. I think he scored 10 points and he is back to relatively full fitness. But he is not 100% there yet. You have that and the ability of Rory (Scannell) to play 10 as well.”

There was less positive news from Foley regarding up and coming fly-half Bill Johnston, who is facing an extended spell on the sidelines after suffering a serious shoulder injury for Ireland U20s against a Munster Development side in Cork on December 28.

“Billy, in the Irish U20s game against Munster Development, dislocated his shoulder and will be out for a period of time. We are waiting. There isn’t a time frame on him yet.

“For a lad of 18 years of age, it is important he is not rushed back in terms of that even though there is a World Cup for him in June. I think from our point of view we need to make sure the lad is looked after properly and this is not an ongoing thing with him because he is a star of the future.”

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