JJ Hanrahan set for Munster return and Jaco Taute set to stay for the rest of the season
Playmaker to rejoin home province after spell with Saints
JJ Hanrahan is set to return to Munster next season, with the province understood to have agreed a deal to re-sign him. The 24-year-old left Munster for Northampton last year in a bid to secure more game-time in his preferred out-half position, and although he played 23 times for the Saints in his first season, an ankle injury suffered in the summer has limited him to just two appearances in this campaign.
Hanrahan's Northampton contract is up next summer and Munster had been monitoring his situation for some time, before reaching an agreement.
The former IRB Junior Player of the Year nominee still harbours ambitions of playing for Ireland, and returning to his home province provides him with the best chance to do so. Hanrahan found his path into the Munster team blocked by Ian Keatley, who may remain at the province.
Tyler Bleyendaal, who becomes Irish-qualified in January 2018, has since made the No 10 jersey his own, but Hanrahan and the highly-rated Bill Johnston will provide competition.
The Kerry native is believed to be hugely excited about the project that Rassie Erasmus is building at Munster and is relishing the move home.
Hanrahan impressed for Northampton in their defeat to Leinster last Friday but suffered another ankle injury, making him a doubt for the return clash in the Aviva on Saturday.
In further good news for Munster, hopes are rising that the IRFU will allow Jaco Taute to remain with the province until the end of the season.
The South African centre was initially signed on a short-term contract as cover for the injured Francis Saili but the Irish Independent understands that Taute is likely to have his stay extended.
Taute has had a huge impact since joining Munster and is keen to stay at the province, but such a move would have to be sanctioned by the IRFU's performance director David Nucifora. Discussions with the Union are understood to be ongoing, with the IRFU open to the idea of Taute staying on.
Saili is out of contract at the end of the season - Munster will have to decide whether to renew his deal or offer Taute a permanent contract.