Ireland's Kearney to join Australia's Western Force

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland v Ireland - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 9, 2019 Ireland's Rob Kearney arrives at the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

(Reuters) - Former Ireland and Leinster fullback Rob Kearney has joined the Western Force on a one-year contract, the Perth-based Australian side said on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old played 15 seasons for Leinster during which he won four European Champions Cups, one Challenge Cup and six Pro14 titles.

Kearney made the last of his 219 Leinster appearances in the Pro14 victory over Ulster at the Aviva Stadium in August.

“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.

“I look forward to moving to Western Australia to begin building relationships with my new teammates and coaches alike and to meet the ever-growing Western Force fan base which also includes a strong Irish contingent.”

Capped 95 times by Ireland, Kearney was part of the Six Nations-winning teams of 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

The Western Force lost each of their eight matches in Super Rugby AU, the competition organised to fill the void left by the abandonment of this year’s Super Rugby championship.

“He is a player of the highest calibre that brings a wealth of experience and quality to the side,” said Matt Hodgson, the Force’s Head of Rugby.

“He also brings a winning mentality, having experienced so much success for his country and Leinster.”

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond