Players have to look after their careers but IRFU must act, says Peter O'Mahony
PETER O'MAHONY says he would understand if some of his Munster team-mates moved to France this summer, but urged the province and the IRFU to do whatever they can to keep the best players in Ireland.
The Munster captain acknowledged that the lure of the Top 14 may prove too strong for some Irish players and said that, while he wants his colleagues to remain at the club, they need to put their own careers first.
Leading stars Conor Murray, Donnacha Ryan, Paul O'Connell and Casey Laulala have all been linked with moves to France in recent weeks and the union is under pressure to keep its front-line players in Ireland after Jonathan Sexton's departure to Racing Metro last summer. While O'Connell has reiterated his desire to finish his career with Munster, the IRFU may find it more difficult to hold onto the younger players. Senior rugby officials have begun talks with all of their out of contract players, but the real negotiations are expected to begin in earnest after the November internationals.
Asked if he wanted his Munster colleagues to remain at the club, O'Mahony said: "Of course.
"But look, (what's) relevant too is that guys have got to look out for themselves and if Munster or Ireland aren't treating them the way they should or they're not paid the way they should – I don't think the provinces or the IRFU can compete with some of the clubs in France and this kind of thing – but guys have got to be looked after. I'll leave it there, but they have to be looked after."
The problems the union could face if more starting players leave for big-spending French clubs has been clear this week with question marks over whether Sexton will be required by Racing for their league clash at Biarritz on Saturday, seven days before the opening November international against Samoa.
The decision on his involvement will be made on Thursday as the Parisians continue to monitor the fitness of his back-up fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski who is a doubt for the clash.