Ex-Ireland full-back Kearney joins Western Force

Sydney (AFP) –


Former Ireland international Rob Kearney has joined Australia's Western Force on a one-year deal, the franchise said on Friday, adding more signings were in store.

The much-decorated full-back's arrival is another coup for the Perth-based outfit after their return to Super Rugby, and indicates they expect to again play a part in the competition next year.

Kearney's list of honours includes four Six Nations triumphs, including two Grand Slams, and three Rugby World Cup campaigns. He has 82 points in 95 international appearances, and 219 caps for Leinster.

"I am delighted to be joining the Western Force for their upcoming season and excited to play with such an ambitious club who are looking to improve on this year's campaign," Kearney said in a statement.

The Force, owned by mining billionaire Andrew Forrest, lost all eight games in Super Rugby AU, the domestic tournament set up when Covid-19 halted the southern hemisphere's Super Rugby competition.

However, it meant a return to top-level competition for the team, who were controversially kicked out of Super Rugby when it reduced to 15 sides in 2018.

While Super Rugby's future format remains unclear, Rugby Australia has insisted the Force must be included in any potential tournament with New Zealand teams next year.

The Force said Kearney, who retired from Leinster and international duty last week, will arrive for pre-season training later this year, adding more signings were expected "in the coming weeks".