Munster look set to lose Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok lock Jean Kleyn at the end of the season with Top 14 clubs circling.
Kleyn has been a mainstay in the Munster pack since his arrival from the Stormers in 2016 and had a standout season as the Irish province lifted the United Rugby Championship title earlier this year.
The 30-year-old lock made his Test debut for Ireland in 2019 after qualifying through residency but switched his international allegiances earlier this year after his mandatory three-year stand down period.
Lyon swoop for Munster lock
With Kleyn changing his Test allegiances earlier this year, it was always going to be difficult for Munster to hang on to him and fellow Bok lock RG Snyman due to the Irish Rugby Football Union’s regulations around non-Irish qualified (NIQ) players.
Both players’ contracts expire at the end of the 2023/24 season, and it looks like Kleyn will be heading away from Thomond Park, with Top 14 outfit Lyon interested in his services.
According to Midi Olympique, Lyon has identified Kleyn as their top target to replace outgoing lock Romain Taofifenua, who is set to join Racing 92.
Taofifenua announced his retirement from international rugby after the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and while he has been a cornerstone of the Lyon pack, the club have reportedly not been able to retain the second-rower’s service.
Lyon have since turned their attention to Kleyn after announcing the re-signings of Leo Berdeu (2026), Killian Geraci (2026) and Beka Saghinadze (2027).
The side will also need to find a suitable replacement for Demba Bamba, who will also be joining Taofifenua at Racing 92 next season.
Winning the World Cup
While Kleyn was notably overlooked for Ireland despite his impressive form, he featured prominently for the Springboks during their successful World Cup defence.
He featured in three of the tournament matches, including a cameo off the bench in the final against New Zealand.
“It is an incredible thing to be a part of. I don’t think there is a country in the world that puts so much into a World Cup; it means so much to the people,” Kleyn said after the final.
On playing for the Springboks, he added: “I had zero expectations [when first speaking to Rassie Erasmus]; I just thought it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. What a privilege to be able to play for my country of birth. It’s a little boy’s dream.”
Kleyn is the second World Cup winner linked with a move to the Top 14 since the final, with Jasper Wiese attracting interest from Stade Francais.