Chris Farrell has mounted a staunch defence of Ireland’s World Cup-bound project players, insisting Jean Kleyn has followed CJ Stander and Bundee Aki’s example in committing heavily to his adopted homeland.
South Africa-born Kleyn earned his first Ireland cap in August just two days after qualifying on residency, and has since edged out stalwart lock Devin Toner to head to the World Cup in Japan.
Munster centre Farrell hailed Ireland’s overseas-born nucleus for uprooting their lives and not only claiming success on the field, but also forging an integral part of their new communities.
Stander is an honorary international ambassador for Limerick and now declares the town home, while Farrell said Auckland-born Aki has worked hard to make himself part of the Galway fabric in his time with Connacht.
“Bundee and CJ in particular have done so much for not only Irish rugby but their provinces,” said Farrell.
“I’ve walked down the streets of Galway with Bundee and it’s chaos, he’s such a leader down there and has done so much for the province.
“CJ is no different in Munster, they’ve been here for a long, long time and their families have grown up here. CJ has had a baby girl here and they really have fitted in so well.
“They add so much to the team, and Jean Kleyn will be no different, especially as he settles in for a longer period. I think it’s fantastic to have them.
“People from Ireland have a proud history of having the bravery to move around the world, we’ve been doing it for years and years. So maybe it that makes them a little more Irish for doing the same.”
Farrell knows all about the courage required to up sticks and start again, having risked every chance of a Test career by leaving native province Ulster for France and Grenoble in 2014. He made peace with the fact he expected to relinquish any chance of representing Ireland when he moved abroad.
Now he has forced his way into boss Joe Schmidt’s final World Cup squad, in which he will also likely play a crucial role.