Toronto Arrows sign Canadian international fly half Shane O'Leary

TORONTO — The Toronto Arrows bolstered their backs Tuesday by signing Canadian international fly half Shane O’Leary for the 2023 Major League Rugby season.

The 29-year-old O’Leary spent the last two years with Rouen Normandie in the French second tier.

O’Leary was a member of Canada’s 2019 Rugby World Cup squad and has earned 14 caps for Canada since making his international debut against Georgia in June 2017. The Irish-born back qualifies for Canada by virtue of his mother, who is originally from New Brunswick.

O'Leary's signing gives Arrows coach Pete Smith some options among the backs, with incumbent fly half Sam Malcolm also available.

"Shane is a very skilled Canadian player who can play multiple positions, as he’s demonstrated over his accomplished pro career in France, Ireland and the U.K.," Arrows COO and GM Mark Winokur said in a statement. "We are excited to have him sign his first North American contract with us, and we’re looking forward to welcoming him home to Canada.”

O'Leary also provides another kicking option.

The five-foot-10, 200-pounder started with Grenoble's academy in France in 2013, leaving to sign with Ireland's Connacht. He spent three seasons there before joining first the Ealing Trailfinders and then Nottingham in England's second-tier Championship. He won the league scoring title in 2018-19 with Nottingham with 186 points.

"It's going to very special for me to return to Canada to play my rugby,” said O'Leary. "My girlfriend and my mother are both from Canada, and I have always felt welcome in Canada. This country has been such an integral part of my rugby career — my Canadian roots run deep.

"I have ambitions to kick on and to wear the Maple Leaf again, and there’s no better place to make this happen than coming home to Canada."

Last week the Arrows re-signed backrower Lucas Rumball and utility forward Mason Flesch, who missed most of the 2022 season with a knee injury

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022

The Canadian Press