Capped twice by Joe Schmidt for Ireland, Foley, 28, has signed a two-year contract with Pau to become the fourth Munster forward signed by head coach Simon Mannix, who spent two seasons with the Irish province as Rob Penney’s backs coach.
The Clonmel native will be joining former team-mates James Coughlan, Paddy Butler and Sean Dougall as well as All Blacks backs Conrad Smith and Colin Slade, Wallaby forward Ben Mowen and former Toulon powerhouse Steffon Armitage.
The current squad is riding high in the French top tier, with a first appearance in the Champions Cup on the horizon if they can maintain their position in the top six.
Despite a heavy defeat at Clermont last Saturday, Pau are lying fifth in the Top 14 with a top-six finish guaranteeing a slot in Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 2001.
Munster Academy graduate Foley made his debut against Connacht in April 2010 with his first European appearance coming against Gloucester in January 2014 and first Ireland cap against Georgia the following November.
He will undergo wrist surgery this week having made his 84th and final appearance for the province at the end of last month, against Scarlets. Pau have been busy recruiting for next season having also signed the likes of prop Thomas Domingo and centre Benson Stanley from Clermont as well as Wasps wing Frank Halai.
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus was dealt a double blow to his plans for the business end of the season when both Foley and fellow lock Jean Kleyn (neck) were ruled out for the rest of the campaign by injury, forcing him to seek short-term cover by signing Springbok second row/flanker Jean Deysel on loan from the Sharks.
Munster have also been without injured trio Mark Chisholm, Sean McCarthy, and John Madigan all season while Donnacha Ryan has been on Ireland duty since the end of January, leaving Billy Holland and Darren O’Shea as the only fit and available locks, though Madigan is now fit again.
Ryan will return from an impressive Six Nations campaign for Munster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Toulouse on April 1, although he is yet to confirm his plans beyond his current contract, which ends in June.