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Dublin: 10 °C Friday 21 February, 2020

Munster optimistic about tying up new Murray, Earls and Zebo deals

Murray has an ‘attractive’ deal on the table, as does Earls, while Zebo is expecting on offer this week.

MUNSTER ARE CONFIDENT of tying up new contracts with Conor Murray and Keith Earls in the coming weeks, while they remain “optimistic” that Simon Zebo can also be retained.

Conor Murray Murray has an 'attractive' offer on the table. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Scrum-half Murray is on the record as wanting to stay in Munster beyond the end of his current deal, which expires in the summer, while Earls is also believed to be of a similar mind.

“Conor Murray is in an advanced stage in negotiations and has quite an attractive offer on the table that I am sure he will make up his made quite shortly on,” said Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald yesterday. ”Keith Earls is in exactly the same situation.”

The prospect of keeping Cork man Zebo in Munster is less clear cut, with Top 14 outfit Pau remaining in the running for the services of the 25-year-old.

“A lot has been written on Simon’s situation, and I speak to Simon regularly about what he wants to do,” said Fitzgerald.

At this point in time, the plan is that he will receive an offer this week with a view to him making any decision he is going to make. I imagine he is going to make it before the Six Nations.

“From the conversations I have had with him, I would say I would be very optimistic. But I would say there is probably other optimistic people around as well.”

All three of the Murray, Earls and Zebo negotiations are being handled by IRFU performance director David Nucifora, whose broad remit includes the re-contracting of international players.

Chief among the “other optimistic people” who are attempting to convince Zebo are Simon Mannix’s Pau, who are believed to be willing to offer the wing a more lucrative deal to move to France than the one on offer in Ireland.

Simon Zebo Zebo has an offer from Pau in France. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster’s Ian Madigan is one Irish player who has recently opted to move abroad next season, having signed for Bordeaux, while there are likely to be others to follow him.

“This happens every year,” said Fitzgerald. “There is always a concern that you are going to do that. But one thing that you need to remember is that the top players and international players in this country are very well looked after. That is why they stay in the country.

The extra pressure this year is coming from the Aviva Premiership, because they have extra TV money next year that they are currently spending.

“Whereas before there was the attraction from France, now you have the draw from England as well. There is a comparison, and obviously the exchange when they [players] sit down and press the button on their phone to see what the exchange rate is.

“It is more attractive again for them. The tax rate in France is an attractive thing even for teams, or for individuals that are being offered similar money. But I still think that the top guys, most of them, will stay here.”

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Murray Kinsella

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