Monday 23 July 2018

Munster urge IRFU to tie down stars after Zebo loss

Stander: Nearing end of contract. Photo: Sportsfile
Stander: Nearing end of contract. Photo: Sportsfile

John Fallon

Munster are putting pressure on the IRFU to lock down a number of key players and ensure that Simon Zebo's flight to France is an isolated case.

Top of the list is the retention of No 8 CJ Stander who is out of contract at the end of this season. He is not on a central contract but his provincial deal could be upgraded to an IRFU one.

While there is no indication that the Lions and Irish star is poised to leave Munster, they don't want his head turned by a big offer from France or England, and want his future wrapped up soon.

Captain Peter O'Mahony, who is on a central IRFU deal, is also out of contract at the end of the season and Munster officials, already dealing with a mid-season change in coach, are anxious to secure his future.

Zebo's current deal is with Munster while Donnacha Ryan, who made the move to Racing 92 in the summer, left after it became known that his central contract was not being renewed.

Meanwhile, one of Munster's longest-serving players Stephen Archer said it is important that they carry their good Champions Cup form back into the PRO14 when they head to Galway to take on Connacht tomorrow.

Archer, whose 144 appearances leaves him only behind Billy Holland (168), Ian Keatley (158) and Tommy O'Donnell (150) in the current Munster squad, said it's vital they finish this block of games on a high, with a home clash against the Dragons next week before the break.

"Hopefully we get eight points from those matches now and we would be in a pretty good position then," said the 29-year old.

"It is an interpro game. Everyone always gives 100pc the whole time, but there is a bit more at stake maybe in the interpros.

"Those games are so important so you don't want to be hanging on to the end of the season to win those. You need momentum the whole time.

"Even going into Europe then it helps a lot with a bit of momentum."

Archer met incoming coach Johaan van Graan briefly last week in Limerick and he's confident that the South African can take over from Rassie Erasmus in the coming weeks without too much disruption.

"He was in around the place looking to get his family sorted for a house and stuff.

"I was only chatting to him briefly, he seemed like a lovely fella.

"He knows Rassie quite well, so I imagine there is a good relationship there and hopefully it will be pretty seamless," added Archer.

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