Sport Rugby

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Off The Ball: Henshaw moving east could be a real win-win

Ger Gilroy

Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30

Robbie Henshaw is everything you'd like your sports people to be. (Stock Photo)
Robbie Henshaw is everything you'd like your sports people to be. (Stock Photo)

Robbie Henshaw is everything you'd like your sports people to be.

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Instead of playing the game this week on Newstalk Breakfast and saying that a couple of years in France would be great and he's flattered by the interest, he said plainly he'd prefer to stay in Ireland. It makes negotiations with the IRFU that bit harder because he doesn't have the French sword to dangle over the Union's head. He knows that and they know that. Money isn't everything for some people. This guy is honest, straightforward and clear-thinking. All the things you want in your leaders.

Henshaw has the potential to be a computer-designed cross between Gordon D'Arcy and Peter O'Mahony. His performance against France at the World Cup was a sensation and showcased the whole range of talents that have catapulted him to automatic starter status with Ireland.

He plays in a variety of positions and could yet be a decade-long solution to any one of a number of problems, he'll be in Lions contention as long as Ireland don't suffer a collapse in the Six Nations. He has the world at his feet.

He'll get paid accordingly both in his basic contract and with endorsements if he fulfils half of his potential.

"Why Leinster?" was the cry from certain quarters this week. The case for staying at Connacht is compelling. Either you're serious about building a proper fourth province or you're not and it's tricky to prove otherwise when you cherry-pick their best players.

However, if Henshaw goes then perhaps Connacht are actually in a very strong bargaining position when it comes to getting bigger budgets and better players themselves. Quid pro quo. For Leinster and Henshaw, though, the deal makes a lot of sense.

Leinster have to behave like potential Champions Cup winners, they have to build a team capable of matching the big English and French clubs and whenever a potential Irish superstar becomes available, they have to pounce.

For Henshaw, it makes sense to build his relationship with Johnny Sexton and test himself in an environment that is burdened by recent success.

If the price is right and Connacht get paid properly then this could be that rare thing in Irish sport. An actual bona fide win-win.

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