'It's my choice' - Robbie Henshaw talks of possible Connacht exit
Ireland international Robbie Henshaw says he might leave Connacht at the end of the season, but the star centre says that he has yet to be approached by the IRFU to start contract talks.
Henshaw is out of contract at the end of this season and is likely to be offered his first centralised contract by union performance director David Nucifora in the coming weeks.
It remains to be seen if the Nucifora and Joe Schmidt see his future at the Sportsground although the player says it remains his decision as to whether he remains with his home province.
Henshaw has long been linked with a move to Leinster, but he says he has already had a number of approaches from clubs outside Ireland. Munster are also known to be keen on his services and are monitoring the situation closely.
The Athlone native says he wants his future wrapped up by Christmas, and while he conceded any future move will have to suit his international career.
Speaking at a Mazda Rugby Roadshow in his home club of Buccaneers, the 22-year-old said he wants Connacht fans to know he might have to leave the province at the end of the season, but that he has yet to fully make up his mind about his future destination.
"I am not sure what it is going to happen for the next few years. I suppose, I am going to have to have a look at my rugby and my development as a player. I am not sure to be honest. It is still a decision I have to make," said Henshaw. "I could end up leaving Connacht, we will have to see. But I just need to make sure that people know that it might be an option, that I might have to leave.
"It is my choice. The IRFU can try and encourage me and open up with a couple of options, but at the end of the day I am out of contract at the end of the year. It is up in the air, it is wherever I want to go, it is my option."
Henshaw's father, Tony, remains the player's agent, but the duo are also advised by Silver Hatch Sports, who will likely play a role in the upcoming contract negotiations.
And Henshaw, who scored his first Connacht try in a year in last weekend's win over Treviso, says he is keen to start discussions as soon as possible after putting them on hold until after the World Cup, with a target date of the end of the year to have his future plans ironed out.
"I want it done before Christmas, please God. But we will see what happens. As of now, no one has approached me so hopefully I will expecting it soon enough so we will see what happens," he said. "I said to everyone that I wanted to leave it off until after the World Cup. To be perfectly honest, it hasn't started yet. I am still waiting on the IRFU to approach me, so I presume it will be happening soon enough.
"I presume in the next few weeks it will start but it's time to start talking with them and see what happens.
"It is going to be a long enough process but I have the right guys on my side to deal with it."
Henshaw has previously spoken of his admiration for Top 14 rugby, but he admits any aspiration to play in France might have to be put on hold if he wants to be a successful Irish international.
After listening to the advice of Johnny Sexton, Henshaw says he regards playing in France and continuing to represent Ireland as an awkward - but not insurmountable - blend to strike. He thinks it might be a possibility later in his career though.
"I am not saying no to it. It definitely is (appealing). There have been a few contacts to my agent. There has been a bit of outside interest, there has been people asking from all angles.
"It is still an option, but I am still relatively young so I think it is a bit early yet. I do, I like the French rugby, it is a fast game. I like the offloading game that they play. Certainly it is something that I would be interested in. It is definitely an attractive brand of rugby.
"Johnny said that if you want to play for Ireland he wouldn't advise that you go to France because they demand so much of you. It is just, such a tough season."