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'I'm disappointed for Munster but I think we have to be happy for Donnacha'

Rassie Erasmus says confirmation of Ryan’s move to Racing 92 next season will be a blow.

RASSIE ERASMUS SAYS Munster will miss lock Donnacha Ryan next season, with the 33-year-old Ireland international set to join Racing 92 this summer.

The Tipperary native is coming to the end of a central IRFU contract and with the union not offering him an extension of that deal, Ryan would have had to agree to a provincial Munster contract in order to remain on Irish soil.

Donnacha Ryan Ryan is set for a move to Top 14 side Racing. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While the Top 14 club have still not officially confirmed Ryan’s signature, Erasmus and Munster are resigned to losing the second row.

“I’m disappointed for us but I think we have to be happy for Donnacha if that’s what he wants to do,” said Erasmus this afternoon in Limerick.

“He’s served Munster well and I guess at his age he’s got one big contract left in him. We made the best offer we could, which was for two years. He didn’t get a national contract again so it was tough for us to afford him and when the likes of Racing and those guys make you offers it’s really big money which we can’t compete with.

“So it’s really sad on one hand and we’re really going to miss him but we’re happy for him.”

It would be natural for Munster to be frustrated at the IRFU’s decision not to offer Ryan a new central contract – given that he is in the form of his life and featured prominently in this year’s Six Nations – but Erasmus was not willing to share any such feeling in public.

The South African director of rugby said Munster must understand the IRFU’s position.

“No, I’m definitely not annoyed,” said Erasmus. “I fully understand that you only have so much money if you’re the IRFU and you have to fit players into that budget and if Joe Schmidt and David Nucifora decide those are the best players, they are the guys that stand over the results for the national team when they’re playing.

“So if they believe other players are better than that then we must respect them signing those players, because at the end of the day they have to carry the results. You can’t beg for a national contract.”

Meanwhile, Erasmus confirmed that he has spoken to the South African Rugby Union after fresh reports that he may be set for a return home this summer.

However, the Munster boss insisted that he is contracted to the province for another two seasons and brushed off the links.

“I worked and lived in South Africa as a coach for 16 years and I speak to them weekly, on a formal and informal basis, but at this stage I have a full contract which is three years and it’s just speculation.”

“I’m big friends with the current coaches and management team. There’s been formal and informal chats the past few months. Some have been requests, some have been pure chats.

“I’ve got a contract with the IRFU and nothing’s changing.”

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Murray Kinsella

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