Saturday 19 October 2019

Penney: Don't blame IRFU over delay to secure stars

Munster head coach Rob Penney
Munster head coach Rob Penney
David Kelly

David Kelly

MUNSTER coach Rob Penney, who will sign an extension to his contract following the completion of Heineken Cup qualifying pools later this month, says the IRFU shouldn't be blamed for the ongoing delay in securing new deals for his stars Paul O'Connell and Keith Earls.

While new coaching contracts have been readied for Penney and his three assistants, there is still no clarity on the remaining two Munster players yet to commit to an IRFU contract extension and there has been loose talk that both may yet be tempted overseas.

"To be fair to the IRFU, they are trying to get them nailed off a lot earlier, so it is not their fault," said Penney.

"They have budgetary restraints to consider and the athlete has to be willing to engage and it is sometimes not the fault of the negotiating team of the IRFU.

"The players have got to do what's in the best interest of themselves and their families. Obviously, we try to create an environment where it's very difficult to leave. Then it's up to the people with the zeros to have enough of them to make them want to stay.


"There's a definitive end-point to a rugby career and people have to look after themselves and make sure they are making the right decisions by themselves. Although we try to influence that as much as we can subtly, they have got to make the call and want to be here for the right reasons at the end of the day."

The decision to confirm the present Munster coaching staff en bloc for one more year is bound to be a persuasive factor in both players' decisions.

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Penney also confirmed that the ongoing role of backs coach Simon Mannix was not an issue in terms of the management's contract negotiations.

"That wasn't up for debate," he confirmed. "I'm keen to stay, as I said before. The organisation has been top-class to deal with. We're focused on the footie at the moment. Garrett (Fitzgerald, Munster CEO of Munster Rugby) is really appreciative of that."

Penney added: "I'm not really interested in a distraction at the moment. I've got something to focus on and we'll just leave it at that for now. But it is progressing well and all parties are pretty comfortable at the moment."

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