Bath’s coup as England-qualified Ross Molony to join from Leinster

Ross Molony - Bath's coup as England-qualified Ross Molony to join from Leinster
Ross Molony (centre) is renowned as a polished line-out operator - Getty Images/Tony Marshall

Bath have secured the signing of Ross Molony, the Leinster lock who could become an option for England, as they continue to bolster their pack.

Molony has started the past two Champions Cup finals against La Rochelle but is to leave the Irish province for a new challenge in the Premiership and is thought to have agreed a three-year deal. The addition of such a quality tight-five forward is a major coup for Bath.

Although there has been no indication yet that Molony is expressly targeting England honours, the move is sure to catch the eye of Steve Borthwick. Molony stands 6ft 6in, weighs around 18st and is renowned as a skillful passer as well as a polished line-out operator. He is also understood to have English heritage.

The 29-year-old would qualify to represent England immediately, or next season if an appearance for Ireland Wolfhounds against an All Black XV in November 2022 ‘captures’ him.

Either way, because of the birthright amendment introduced by World Rugby in 2021, which allows players to switch allegiance after a three-year stand-down period provided they have familial links to another country, he will not be tied to Ireland indefinitely.

Molony, who remains uncapped, became caught in a traffic jam of quality back-five forwards in Ireland, with Joe McCarthy emerging over the past two seasons to join James Ryan and Tadhg Beirne.

The athletic and versatile Ryan Baird is another provincial colleague ahead of Molony in the queue for Ireland caps and Leinster have also landed RG Snyman, a back-to-back World Cup winner with the Springboks, from Munster for next season.

Sources have indicated that Bath, sitting third in the Premiership with a last-16 tie in the Champions Cup to come, are still looking for a loosehead prop to complete their recruitment for the 2024-25 campaign.

They have already brought in Guy Pepper, the highly rated back-rower who started at openside flanker for England A against Portugal last month.

Retention has been their priority over recent months, with Miles Reid, Niall Annett, Charlie Ewels, Cameron Redpath, Will Muir and Max Ojomoh among the first-team regulars to have agreed new contracts.