Tuesday 28 February 2017

Kelly: We must look to academy first

Declan Rooney

Stock photo: Getty Images
Stock photo: Getty Images

Professional Game Board (PGB) chairman John Kelly says Irish provinces cannot go out and sign any player the want because of the IRFU's succession plan.

Ireland-capped Kelly played 153 times and scored 34 tries for the province before he started work with the PGB, and says everyone must be cognisant of the talent that's coming through the academy before looking outside the province.

"There's a perception out there that we can just go and sign a player, no matter where he's from or the position he plays. That is not the case," said Kelly.

"With the Succession Plan you have to be looking right down through your academy and sub-academy to see who is coming though and identify areas where you potentially need to contract in the future. The IRFU have an input. For example, if you look across the provinces, you have Ruan Pienaar in Ulster, that means we and the other provinces cannot sign a non-Irish-qualified 9."

Despite the stringent rules that the PGB must work to, Kelly says he always prefers to see young Munster talent getting their chance.

"It's something that has been there for a long time and has been producing players of quality for Munster to then go on to international level.

"Tommy O'Donnell was on the scene for my last couple of years as a player and he has progressed fantastically since then.

"That's what you want your academy to do - to bring players in and accelerate their development so that they can get on the pitch for Munster."

Irish Independent

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