New Leinster signing Steven Sykes has set his sights on gaining international recognition with Ireland once he arrives from the Sharks.
The second-row has been lured to Dublin along with returning prop Jamie Hagan and Dan Carter’s deputy at Crusaders Matt Berquist, who will provide cover for Ireland starlet Johnny Sexton while he is at the World Cup later this year.
Sykes, 26, has been surprisingly overlooked from senior international honours despite playing for South Africa under-19’s and the Emerging Springboks earlier in his career.
That means he could follow the lead of the likes of England internationals Shontayne Hape and Riki Flutey in qualifying on residency grounds once his initial three-year deal is up.
“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,” Sykes 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.
“Of course it was not an easy decision to make. I love the Sharks. I have played over 130 games for the Union and loved every minute of it.
“However I believe that it will be very good for my rugby to make the move and I am looking forward to the experience of playing in European conditions week-in and week-out, learning about their way of playing – which I think will suit me.
“I remember sitting down after I signed the Leinster contract and reflecting on it – it is obviously a massive decision to make.
“I do believe 100 per-cent it is the right choice for me. I am really looking forward to the challenge.”