IRFU should 'go to max' to keep Heaslip and O'Brien - Byrne
FORMER Leinster hooker Shane Byrne believes that the pull of the home province could yet persuade Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien to remain in Ireland.
With speculation mounting that the back-row duo could be off to France next season, ex-Ireland and Lions player Byrne has called on the IRFU to make their best possible offer to the in-demand duo and believes they could be dissuaded from heading to the Top 14.
Byrne joined analyst Brent Pope and the Irish Independent's Ruaidhri O'Connor in this week's Heineken Star Predictor Podcast, which will be available on independent.ie from today to discuss this weekend's games and the issues surrounding the Irish provinces.
Chief among those is the retention of the big names and, having gone to Saracens himself towards the end of his career, Byrne is hopeful that Leinster can hold on to their men. "I never wanted to leave Leinster, and that is something that will be hard for them," he said.
"They've achieved so much under the blue banner, it is a real family and that is one thing the Irish provinces have.
"But, as we've seen from Jonathan Sexton, he'd still prefer to be in Dublin but he has that bank balance, I suppose. If you look at it that way, not to sound coarse, but they are professionals and in their mid-30s it's gone, their earning potential is finished. They have to take this opportunity when they have it.
"With certain people, the IRFU should go to the maximum that they can go and then at least they can put their hands up.
"They shouldn't play games with guys' careers -- that's what you don't like seeing. If the guy has a value, then they should match that value. And if someone comes in with a much bigger offer that they can't match then they have to put their hands up and say we can't reach that, and leave it to the players to make the decision."
To view the podcast, go to www.independent.ie//heinekenpodcast