Sunday 19 November 2017

We can't force players to move, admits Browne

Connacht's Robbie Henshaw in action during squad training
Connacht's Robbie Henshaw in action during squad training
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has said that the union want to encourage more player movement between provinces, but admitted that they would be unable to force a player under contract into a transfer for the betterment of the national team.

A week on from IRFU president Pat Fitzgerald's assertion that young star Robbie Henshaw could be moved from Connacht to Leinster or Munster if Ireland coach Joe Schmidt felt it would be better for the national team, Browne said there is "no point imposing decisions on people, on organisations."

However, with new performance director David Nucifora being unveiled today, it is clear that the union want more young players to switch between provinces in order to get more game-time and development opportunities.

That is likely to ruffle feathers at the stronger provinces, who are likely to want the flow to go both ways, while the international chances of Connacht's players are likely to be hindered by the fact that they are highly unlikely to be in Europe's top competition next season.

Although he has stated his happiness at Connacht and is under contract until 2016, Henshaw is being seen as a benchmark case.

"The bottom line is if we want to move players, it requires co-operation among a number of parties. It requires the co-operation of provinces, players and the union to get involved," Browne said.

"If a player is in-contract, he is in-contract. Unless there is an agreement reached with the various parties then the fact of the matter is, (it is) probably not (possible to engineer a move). There is absolutely no point in going down the road of imposing decisions on people, on organisations. We have to decide what is in the best interests of the game in Ireland and the individual player.

"That requires discussions and what is in the best interests of the provinces and the national team in particular.

"We have four teams from which we have to effectively staff the national team. All of these things are being discussed.

"There are no decisions taken about anything, other than what we do want to see is greater movement between the provinces on the basis that if players are to develop, they have to have game-time."

Irish Independent

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