Ian Keatley has left Munster to join London Irish on a short-term contract.
It was confirmed two weeks ago that Keatley would join Benetton Treviso at the end of the season, but he will now leave Munster with immediate effect in the interim period.
The 31-year-old fly-half joins former Munster coach Declan Kidney at the English Championship leaders to provide cover after an injury to Theo Brophy Clews and a knock picked up by Stephen Myler.
Keatley has fallen out of favour since the arrival of Joey Carbery, playing only 74 minutes across four substitute appearances this season. His last game was in South Africa against the Cheetahs on November 4.
It brings to an end Keatley’s seven-and-a-half year term with Munster. He leaves as Munster’s all-time second-highest point-scorer, with 1,247 points in 180 appearances. Of the current squad, only Billy Holland had played more games in red.
“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone for their support and messages since announcing my move to Treviso, it has been overwhelming hearing from you all,” said Keatley in a statement.
“I want to say thanks for all the support me and my family have received over the years, I know my parents and family will miss coming down here.
“I’m never going to forget the terrific support, especially those big European occasions in Limerick which are really special days, and I have fantastic memories for life.
“I’ve experienced great highs and some low lows over my career, with the highs far outweighing the lows, but the support following Axel’s passing is what sums up Munster for me. It’s for that I’m really going to miss this place, it has been special, and it has been true.
“I know I’m from Dublin, but I’ve lived here for the last eight years, and with my fiancée Lisa and daughter Beth born here, I know we will be back again. I’m from Munster and I’m a Limerick man now, and it holds a special place in my heart.
“I’ve this opportunity now to go and get some game time before the end of the season and I’m excited about going out playing rugby again.
Thanks again for your support throughout the years.”
Capped seven times by Ireland, Keatley is third on the list of all-time top point-scorers in the PRO14 (1,428 points) and fifth on the list of most games played (196 matches) for his time with Connacht and Munster.
His new coach Kidney said: “With Theo Brophy Clews injured and Stephen Myler having picked up a knock in training last week we felt that we needed more depth at fly-half, and Ian is a good person to bring in.