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IRFU have called Jamie Heaslip's contract bluff says George Hook

The RTÉ rugby pundit feels the IRFU could get two quality players in for the Kildare man’s current wages.

George Hook feels Leinster could have a ready-made replacement for Jamie Heaslip in Jordi Murphy.
George Hook feels Leinster could have a ready-made replacement for Jamie Heaslip in Jordi Murphy.
Image: RTE screengrab

RTÉ PUNDIT GEORGE HOOK has declared that Jamie Heaslip and his agent may yet rue their evasive actions in negotiating a new contract with the IRFU.

The former Connacht and USA coach, speaking after Leinster’s 19-6 win over Ulster last night, had a cautionary tale for the No.8 over mooted intentions of a lucrative Top 14 move. Rumours persist of Heaslip seriously considering a move to France next season, with Toulon and Montpellier the touted destinations.

“The thing we have to understand,” Hook proclaimed, “is that the IRFU doesn’t have much money. Their biggest cost is wages.”

The radio and TV presenter went on to add that the IRFU may be better off tying up ‘two or three’ upcoming talents for the wages that Heaslip is currently on. Heaslip’s current deal, according to Hook, was for three years at a cost ‘in excess of €1m’.

The IRFU, who have tied up recent contracts with Donnacha Ryan, Rory Best and Conor Murray, offered Heaslip an improved deal to the one that will expire next summer. Hook believes Heaslip and his negotiating team prevaricated and the deal was taken off the table. He added:

If Jamie Heaslip came to me — and I’m not saying he would — and said ‘George, what should I do?’ I would say Jonny Sexton… He’s not the poster boy for moving to France.”

Shane Horgan, Heaslip’s former provincial and international teammate, revealed that Leinster are seeking to work out a deal with the IRFU where they can top-up the wages of centrally contracted players. Horgan agreed that a move to France may have increasing financial attractions but the physical and mental toll it may take on players could prove a significant deterrent.

imageA move to France is ‘not all roses in the garden’ according to Shane Horgan. Credit: RTÉ

His advice for any Irish player considering a Top 14 move would be to sign for a club that will consistently challenge for honours. Clermont, Toulon and Toulouse would all tick that box, as well as being generous with wage deals, while Montpellier are seen as an up-an-coming power in French rugby.

Man-of-the-match for Leinster last night was Jordi Murphy, who Hook suggested could amply fill Heaslip’s boots if given increased playing time. He said, “[Head coach] Matt O’Connor has a decision to make — Can I look at [Murphy] 12 months down the line and will he be as good as Jamie Heaslip.”

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Patrick McCarry

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