Magners League
Leinster snap up talented trio
ESPNscrum Staff
March 28, 2011
Sharks prop Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira lifts teammate Steven Sykes, Crusaders v Sharks, Super Rugby, Twickenham, England, March 27, 2011
Sykes was in action for the Sharks against the Crusaders at Twickenham on Sunday © Getty Images
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Leinster have confirmed the signing of Sharks second row Steven Sykes, Crusaders fly-half Matt Berquist and Connacht prop Jamie Hagan.

Sykes and Hagan have put pen to paper on a three-year deals while Berquist has committed for one season with the option for another with all three set to join the province in the summer.

The 26-year-old Sykes has established himself as one of South Africa's premier second row forwards in recent years but being uncapped by the Springboks means it is possible that he could qualify to play for Ireland at the end of his three year contract. The former South Africa U19 and Emerging Springbok player, who also tasted Currie Cup success with the Sharks last year, is determined to play top level rugby and he believes that moving abroad is the right decision for him, both in the short and long-term.

"For me I believe it is a good career and personal move - I want to play international rugby and it would be a fantastic honour to play for Ireland as well if it came about," he said. "Before any of that though I am really excited to play for Leinster. I really do believe it is the right move for me."

Waipukurau-born Berquist, 27, joined the Canterbury Crusaders in 2010 having also played for Hawke's Bay, Otago and Auckland. An accurate goal-kicker, he made his provincial debut in 2003 and has since gone on to play 67 times at provincial level, with a further 21 caps to date at Super Rugby level. "I have always been keen to test myself in Europe and the Magners League and Heineken Cup competitions will certainly provide a real challenge," he said. "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."

Former Leinster and Ireland Youths prop Hagan, 23, has played 23 times for Connacht in all competitions so far this season having made the move from Leinster in 2009 and is looking forward to returning to a familiar environment. "I am delighted to be heading back home to Leinster and I am looking forward to the new challenges that I will face," he said. "Everyone in Connacht (particularly Eric Elwood and Dan McFarland) has been very good to me over the last few years and I'm looking forward to pushing on from my experience in Galway to make an impact when I return to Leinster in the summer."

Commenting on his latest acquisitions, coach Joe Schmidt added, "Steven has gained a wealth of experience at Super 15 level in recent years and, at 26, we believe that his best years are still to come. He is an ambitious and talented player who is excited about joining the province.

"Jamie's desire to return to the province of his birth after an impressive spell with Connacht over the last few years is another important acquisition for the panel. Our coaching team have been impressed by the level of his performances again this year and we believe that he has the potential to improve even further.

"Matt has been understudy to Dan Carter at the Crusaders this year, which limits any player's game time a little, but he has proven quality and experience in the NPC and Super 15 and he will provide further competition for our established and up-and-coming out-halves.

"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."

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