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11th March 2015 By Munster Rugby

Munster Rugby and the IRFU can today confirm that BJ Botha, Niall Scannell and Kevin O’Byrne have all signed contract extensions with the province.

Munster Rugby and the IRFU can today confirm that BJ Botha, Niall Scannell and Kevin O’Byrne have all signed contract extensions with the province.

The front row players have all put pen to paper with BJ Botha signing a six-month contract extension, Niall Scannell advancing to a two-year full contract and Kevin O’Byrne signing a one-year development contract.

Munster’s South African prop BJ Botha has been with the province since the start of the 2011/12 season, making 93 appearances. He made his debut against Scarlets in September 2011 in Cork and went on to make his European debut two months later against Northampton Saints in Thomond Park. The 35-year-old has represented his country on 25 occasions and he was a member of the South African squad that won the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The latest contract extension will see him remain with the province until December 2015 and in referring to the six-month contract period Head Coach Anthony Foley said, “BJ’s contract is up at the end of this season but after working closely with the IRFU we have thankfully secured the services of a player of his calibre for a further six months. He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the scrum and front row and it is a huge boost to the squad to have him available during the World Cup window when our squad numbers will be reduced.”

Hooker Niall Scannell, moved in to the senior squad as a development player at the start of the 2013/14 season and he will now advance to a full contract at the start of the 2015/16 season. The former Ireland U20's captain is a graduate of the Munster Rugby academy and he made his league debut in December 2013 against Scarlets in Cork, and has 6 Munster caps. The 24-year-old has also featured for Munster A on 14 occasions in the British and Irish Cup.

Fellow hooker and Cork-man Kevin O’Byrne has a signed a one-year development contract that will see him stay with the province until at least June 2016. The UL Bohemians club-man joined the squad on a training contract at the start of this season and he has gone on to make 11 appearances for the province. The 23-year-old was the starting hooker when making his PRO12 debut against Edinburgh in Thomond Park in September 2014.

Commenting further on the latest contract signings Foley said, “This season alone has shown us how critical it is to have a number of options available at hooker. Out of a possible 6 hookers we had 2, max 3, available for most of the season through various injuries. With Varley’s retirement confirmed and Mike Sherry out since November 2013 it’s great to see these young players, both Kevin and Niall, taking their opportunities and committing their futures to the province.”

It has also been confirmed this week that Development prop Alan Cotter will leave the province at the end of the current season. Cotter is set to join French Federale 1 side Le Parc Pays D’Aix who are currently in pursuit of Pro D2 qualification. The Limerick-man has made 5 appearances for the province and has played on 18 occasions in the British and Irish Cup. The 28-year-old previously went on loan spells to Premiership outfits London Irish and Bath Rugby.

All at Munster Rugby would like to wish Alan the very best of luck with the move.

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