Thursday 23 November 2017

The Left Wing - Luke Fitzgerald backs Munster to keep Jaco Taute over Francis Saili

Jaco Taute and Francis Saili of Munster during squad training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Jaco Taute and Francis Saili of Munster during squad training at the University of Limerick in Limerick. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Leinster and Ireland winger Luke Fitzgerald has said that he'd elect to keep South African centre Jaco Taute over former All Black midfielder Francis Saili at Munster next season, with both players set to come off contract with the province at the end of the current campaign.

The Irish Independent reported on Saturday that several English clubs are interested in signing Saili with Harlequins leading the chase for the 26-year-old, who joined Munster at the start of last season.

However, Saili's departure from Thomond Park will pave the way for Munster to step up their intention to keep Taute. The South African was initially signed as injury cover for Saili but the IRFU granted Munster permission to keep the Springbok until the end of the season.

However, the union did stress that Munster could only keep one of their non-Irish-qualified (NIQ) centres next year and the province are keen to ensure that Taute remains in Ireland, a decision that Fitzgerald supports.

#VIDEO The Left Wing LIVE - Luke Fitzgerald on his entente cordiale with Nigel Owens and the loss of Ruan Pienaar

Posted by Independent Sport on Monday, May 8, 2017

[22:57 mark for discussion on Taute v Saili]

"I think [Taute] he fits them a little bit better but it's such a tight call," Fitzgerald said on the Independent.ie's The Left Wing on Monday.

"I actually rate those two guys very, very highly. Saili is a lovely ball handler; we saw that pass over the top for the [Darren] Sweetnam try last week against Treviso.

"He's got a great array of skills but I just feel like Taute is a nice balance because I think they get a little bit of that with [Rory] Scannell and [Tyler] Bleyendaal there already.

"I think they have enough playmaking with [Simon] Zebo at fullback there as well. Keith Earls is capable of coming in there and doing a bit of playmaking as well but I feel like Taute is a guy who is just a little bit different.

"He's very robust, excellent defensively and he's made a huge impact on this Munster team, tight call, but I'd probably go with Taute."

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