Friday 28 October 2016

We did everything we could to keep Robbie here, insists Lam

John Fallon

Published 17/02/2016 | 02:30

Robbie Henshaw
Robbie Henshaw
Connacht’s John Muldoon training in the muddy conditions at the Sportsground yesterday. Photo: David Maher / Sportsfile.

Connacht coach Pat Lam said he is content that the IRFU did everything they could to keep Robbie Henshaw at the Sportsground.

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Lam said IRFU performance director David Nucifora worked closely with Connacht chief executive Willie Ruane in an effort to keep the 22-year-old centre with the province. And Lam did not rule out the prospect of Henshaw returning to the province at some point in the future, stating that the door will always be open to him.

The coach said he could understand the disappointment of Connacht fans losing such a poster-boy player but said everything was done by the province and the IRFU to keep him.

"Without a doubt. Willie (Ruane) did a tremendous job for us, IRFU as well. There are three parties involved in that. The whole process, we did everything we can, but again it comes back to the player's decision. You respect the player's decision.

"There are a lot of factors, I always say, as I make my decisions. If my wife says she doesn't enjoy it here in Connacht or in Galway then I wouldn't be here. That's one example. There are many factors when people make decisions, it's no different from people out in the working world in any job you weigh everything up."

Lam said that Connacht would now move on from this announcement and bid to finish their best ever season in the professional era on a high, as well as plan their squad for the 2016 season and beyond.

"He isn't the first Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster player that has left their home province. And it won't be the last, that's just the nature. But ultimately every player will make their decision, but for us we continue to move on with what we are doing," Lam said.

"Everything is around the collective, and making sure that we are successful. And while supporters are disappointed, and I have coached teams and played in teams where we have had home-grown world-class players, that doesn't guarantee you success.

"What guarantees you success is your structure, you culture, the game you play, your team work that everyone does. Ultimately, I know fans will be disappointed. Fans, what they want is a successful team, and that is what we are doing at the moment. Robbie is part of that this year too. Not only this year, but we want to continue building that year on year so that Connacht Rugby is successful."

The likes of Johnny O'Connor, who went to Wasps, and Gavin Duffy, who signed for Harlequins, left their native Connacht just as they were breaking into the Irish team. Both returned to the Sportsground after a few seasons and Lam did not rule out the prospect of Henshaw doing the same.


"There is no doubt this will always be his home. And who knows what is down the line, of course, if Robbie wanted to come back. Every player has their time-lines. Every player has their time to make a decision. That was totally over terms. All of us, we got told last week. We were informed and then Willie (Ruane) let all of the staff, all of the players, everyone knew before it all came out. The whole process was nice and clean.

"It's disappointing and I said that at the time but it's the nature of professional rugby. Players will come to contracts and they will make their decisions. I respect the decision any player makes."

Irish Independent

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