Sunday 25 September 2016

Ger Gilroy: Henshaw and Zebo will be perfect gift for someone this Christmas

Ger Gilroy

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

After hinting his future lies away from Connacht, Robbie Henshaw will have no shortage of suitors
After hinting his future lies away from Connacht, Robbie Henshaw will have no shortage of suitors

It's nearly the Festive season, unless you're a rugby player, in which case it is contract season which means Christmas is coming early.

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I tried to institute a strict rule that we never talk about rugby contracts on the show before they're signed since there are too many unknown unknowns, but just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

When the contracts in question are Simon Zebo and Robbie Henshaw, two of the most exhilarating talents in Irish rugby, I'm in.

Munster fans are salivating about the prospect of them being in the same red jersey and really terrified that it might be Toulouse or Toulon.

Okay, so that's unlikely to happen given Henshaw has pretty much ruled out a move abroad, but presumably there's a bidding war in the offing between Munster and Leinster.

If there isn't then something is wrong.

For Leinster, Henshaw is a decade of broody marketing shots guaranteeing season-ticket sales, plus he's another chance to spread the gospel beyond their traditional stronghold.

Pathway

He's also a bloody good player who lifts the standard of the much-hyped kids coming through with his application and work-rate and pathway to the Irish team, but equally he'll challenge the veterans.

Will they be the lads who won a couple of big medals when Joe Schmidt, Brian O'Driscoll and Rocky Elsom were there or are they a generation who define their own legacy? Henshaw would help.

For Munster, Henshaw is even more vital. He's the excitement, aggression, talent and blue-collar brilliance that is supposed to define the province.

It's not quite a one-stop solution to all their problems but it'd suddenly make the team feel big-time again and that's what's missing right now.

With their list of legends shuffling away from Thomond Park the team hasn't captured the fans' hearts. Getting Henshaw and putting him beside Earls and Zebo on your three-man posters suddenly helps sell tickets and sponsorship packages.

Losing Zebo would be a catastrophic statement of malaise from Munster and can't be allowed to happen. Getting Henshaw to sign as well would make Munster relevant all over Europe again.

It's contract season, the most wonderful time of the year.

Irish Independent

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