Donnacha Ryan deal rounds off great weekend for reds
MUNSTER's already good weekend got even better yesterday as Donnacha Ryan followed Conor Murray's lead by committing his future to the province despite interest from abroad.
The Tipperary second-row inked a new three-year deal with the IRFU that will keep him at Thomond Park until 2017. After Murray's decision to sign on for two years and Saturday's last-gasp win over Perpignan in the Heineken Cup, not to mention Edinburgh's surprise win over Gloucester yesterday, it has been a nice few days for coach Rob Penney.
Ryan made his return from a knee injury in Saturday's win against one of the teams he had spoken to about a move. Perpignan had brought the player to France to visit their home ground in October, while London Irish and two other clubs were also interested in the 30-year-old.
Paul O'Connell and Keith Earls are the two most high-profile players who are out of contract at the end of the season and yet to commit at Munster, while Penney's contract is also up in June.
The Ryan deal represents a second significant coup for the IRFU in a matter of days, but fans of Leinster and Ulster are hoping they follow up their success with Munster by nailing their big names down. Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien have been heavily linked with Toulon and Montpellier, while Rory Best has yet to commit.
The lure of staying in Ireland at this point in the World Cup cycle is believed to have been a strong factor in Ryan's decision, while the security of a three-year deal also played a major part.
Meanwhile, as expected, Casey Laulala will leave the province at the end of the season with Grenoble set to sign the former All Black.