Monday 25 March 2019

Brian O'Driscoll: There has been a negative shift in attitude in Munster rugby

Ger Keville

Ger Keville

Brian O’Driscoll has questioned the “negative” attitude within Munster rugby and claims there is no way JJ Hanrahan would have left the province five or six years ago.

Kerry native Hanrahan last month turned down a three-year deal to stay at home and instead decided to move to the Northampton Saints at the end of this season on a €170,000-per-year contract.

But former Leinster captain O’Driscoll reckons that back when Munster were a real force in European rugby, this move would not have happened.

O’Driscoll feels that attitudes within Munster rugby have become more negative and that this issue may be turning players off from signing for the former European champions.

Brian O'Driscoll says JJ Hanrahan would not have left Munster five or six years ago
Brian O'Driscoll says JJ Hanrahan would not have left Munster five or six years ago

“I don’t know if the superstar players want to come on board as much as they did in the past. This is a career people are looking for first and foremost,” said O’Driscoll on tonight’s Off The Ball show on Newstalk.

“Yes they want to go and win silverware but they also want to make as much money as possible and the players that are coming over from overseas want to make sure their family are happy, they have a chance of winning and they can build their pension as much as they possibly can. They might have three or four years of it.

“In the past Munster had brilliant signings where they had real quality players that bought into that Munster ethos, the Rua Tipokis, the John Langfords, the Dougie Howletts.

Read more: Ronan O'Gara: Ireland is full of negativity – Munster need solutions, not exaggerated criticism

“When you looked at a team sheet they were the first guys on the team whereas now you look at the overseas players, BJ Botha hasn’t had his greatest season, Andrew Smith in the center, CJ Stander has been good in parts but nothing compared to those names I talked about before.

“The caliber of overseas players is definitely not what it was.”

But attracting overseas players is not the only problem with issues at grassroots level, according to O’Driscoll.

“I don’t think that in Munster, five or six years ago, that JJ Hanrahan would have gone. The whole ethos and everything within the club would have been “if you stay here there is a very good chance you are going to pick up some European silverware or domestic silverware and play for Ireland”.

“If you are not in the mix, then you fight to get your place. You fight and you fight and you fight. Maybe you see it as a brave decision to go away and try and get first-team football but he is a young guy, did he not have another year?

“I am just asking questions, I am not trying to get into his head. I think that the mentality there might have just shifted slightly from a Munster perspective, in the negative,” added O’Driscoll.

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