Sunday 25 August 2019

Rassie Erasmus dismisses talk of Munster bid for All Blacks star Ben Smith

Ben Smith
Ben Smith

Ruaidhri O'Connor​

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has emphatically denied the province are trying to sign New Zealand international Ben Smith.

The South African said his recruitment priority lies with securing Irish-qualified players and stated that there is absolutely no truth in the reports in New Zealand that the province are leading the chase for the 60-times-capped full-back's signature.

The World Cup winner's contract is up in 2017 and he is attracting interest from Europe where he would command a yearly salary of €750,000 or more.

Munster were the only side named in the reports about Smith's future, but Erasmus has denied that the player is on their radar.

"We are constantly looking for Irish-qualified players," he said.


Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

"One of my briefs is to get Irish-qualified players well coached and available for Joe (Schmidt). All four provinces are the same and Ben Smith is obviously not Irish-qualified, so that's not true."

Erasmsus's priority this week is preparing his team for Monday's sold-out clash with Leinster at Thomond Park as Munster look to bounce back from their defeat to Leicester Tigers. The province have no fresh injury worries from that game and welcome Francis Saili back into contention.

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The director of rugby says he will juggle his Test players over the course of the Christmas period as the IRFU's player management scheme kicks in, which means the likes of Conor Murray, CJ Stander and Simon Zebo's minutes will be limited.

"We have guidelines from the IRFU that are communicated to all the provinces," he said.

"They don't tell us specifically for any game, more over a stretch of time, so many games.

"We must try and spread it around over the two matches. Sometimes you might spread it and lose both games so you want to make sure you do the right thing. We haven't quite made up our minds yet."

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