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JJ Hanrahan: Leaving Munster doesn't mean goodbye for good

The talented Kerry native will join the Northampton Saints in England next season.

Hanrahan will leave Munster at the end of the current season.
Hanrahan will leave Munster at the end of the current season.
Image: Inpho/Billy Stickland

JJ HANRAHAN HAS admitted that he can see himself returning to home province Munster in the future, despite agreeing to join Premiership side Northampton Saints next season.

The highly-rated 22-year-old, a nominee for the IRB Junior World Player of the Year award in 2012, will move to England at the end of the current campaign after turning down Munster’s three-year contract offer.

A lack of game time in the out-half position is one of the reasons for Hanrahan’s impending departure, while he believes his development as a player is better served under Jim Malliner at Northampton.

However, the Currow native admits that leaving Munster at the end of the season does not mean he will never wear the famous red jersey again.

“It’s probably more of a see you soon, rather than goodbye for good,” said the talented playmaker in Limerick yesterday.

Hanrahan points to Irish internationals like Tommy Bowe and Eoin Reddan as players who have left the country only to return much improved. His own international ambitions mean Hanrahan sees this move to the Saints as his chance to impress.

“It was something that I really weighed up. The way I see it is that you have to be playing to be in the reckoning for Ireland, and that’s the main thing. It’s about playing, you know?

Out of sight, out of mind it may be [in England], but there is also numerous players who went away, learned their trade and then came back.

“Look, if it works out like that for me then great, but at this moment in time I have made my decision on what’s best for my development. I am still developing and I am not the finished article yet.”

JJ Hanrahan and Ian Keatley Hanrahan has had limited chances at out-half, with Ian Keatley preferred there for Munster's biggest games. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Munster legend Ronan O’Gara, now defence coach at Racing Métro, is one of those to have come out in support of Hanrahan’s decision, even though others have questioned the move out of Ireland.

While Hanrahan is appreciative of being supported by a figure of O’Gara’s quality, he says this move was down to his own evaluation of the options.

“It’s always nice to get support like that,” said Hanrahan. “When someone of his calibre, experience and what he’s played, the amount of games, obviously being a Munster legend, when he supports your decision it’s nice to get that backing.

But at the end of the day whatever way it went, with people not supporting me, people confused, people angry, people happy that I’m leaving, whatever way it went, ultimately I was going to make my decision for myself and back myself.

“It does make it easier when people back you or say you’re doing the right thing, back your decision, but I didn’t know what way people were going to react to it. I was just going with what I felt was the best thing for me.”

For more from JJ Hanrahan and his decision to move to Northampton next season, read The42‘s feature-length piece with the 22-year-old here.

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Murray Kinsella

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