Saturday 10 December 2016

Brian O'Driscoll on how losing Robbie Henshaw will hit Connacht in more ways than one

Published 19/02/2016 | 21:03

Robbie Henshaw will leave Connacht at the end of the season
Robbie Henshaw will leave Connacht at the end of the season

Three-time Heineken Cup winner Brian O'Driscoll couldn't hide in his pleasure at the news that Robbie Henshaw was making the move across the Shannon to join Leinster.

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Speculation that the Athlone centre was going to leave Connacht was confirmed by the western province last Sunday and the announcement of a three-year deal followed soon afterwards.

BOD was pleased that the 22-year-old is swapping the Sportsgrounds for the RDS but felt for Connacht and their fans.

"It's great for Leinster. I'll get my smugness out of the way very quickly. It's been touted for a long time and as a Leinster fan, I'm biased because they were my team and I want the best for them," he told off The Ball on Newstalk.

"From Connacht's perspective, I feel the annoyance and disappointment of them and their supporters because it is one of their own and they've groomed him to be the player he is and now he is going to one of the main competitors because he wants a new challenge, or play with different... or new players who are more likely to be internationals, I don't know what his rationale was.

"It's his decision. One guy has never made a a team and they will have to regroup. They've got some nice new players coming through and they've got a handy other centre in Bundee Aki."

As well as losing their best player, O'Driscoll feels the move could affect Connacht's ability to attract top talent to Galway from abroad.

"You do want to hold on to your best players because they do... foreigners coming over ask 'who do you have?... who do you have in the Irish setup?', if they don't know the individuals themselves," he added.

"Kieran Marmion was on the bench for the first game, Nathan White and Robbie Henshaw and all of a sudden Marmion is gone, Robbie Henshaw is over to Leinster and Nathan White, when Mike Ross comes back, potenitally is going to be relegated to the bench. Would he be there if Marty Moore was there? Maybe not.

"It does have an affect with players who want to come on and win with a team and not just pick up a salary towards the end of their careers."

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