'Robbie Henshaw staying builds what we have' - Pat Lam coy on Leinster transfer rumours
Connacht coach Pat Lam has reiterated his hope Robbie Henshaw will remain with the province after his contract runs out at the end of the season, but he says he knows the star centre has a tough decision to make.
And Lam says there is no link with the re-signing of centre Eoin Griffin from London Irish and a possible departure for the Irish international.
Henshaw insisted that he wants his contract dealings wrapped up by Christmas, but so far the coach has not been given a hint as to what Henshaw's final destination will be.
According to the former Blues coach, there is "a lot of work going on behind the scenes" as Connacht continue their recruitment, but that Griffin's signing is part of his overall bid to strengthen his squad. "What I'm saying is we want Robbie to be here, that's really clear. That's all I'm saying," said Lam. "This is all part of the plan of building our squad and certainly we see Robbie Henshaw as a big part of that and with the other guys we are building here.
"Robbie is no different to all the other players. Every player and coach comes to a time where they have to make a decision. Tiernan (O'Halloran) and Griff had to go through that process too when we said that we were keen.
"For us, Robbie staying builds what we have. More Connacht indigenous players, more players that can play at a higher level and more versatility. Robbie can play outside, inside and full-back.Also if Robbie's going to be involved in international rugby - and we anticipate that have more players playing for Ireland - but you have to have a good squad to cover that."
That wish to strengthen his squad for next season is not surprising given that Connacht had only 21 fit players at training yesterday for their Challenge Cup clash with Newcastle Falcons. Loosehead Denis Buckley has already missed a game due to an ankle injury picked up in the win over Munster, but he will today unexpectedly go under the knife and is expected to miss up to eight weeks.
Dave McSharry is out of the return against Newcastle, while Matt Healy (calf), Tiernan O'Halloran (thigh), John Muldoon (calf) and Bundee Aki (ankle) will be assessed this week.