Munster hopeful of holding onto 'majority' of players as contract talks continue

A raft of senior players’ contracts are due to expire at the end of the current season.

CJ Stander, Peter O'Mahony, and Keith Earls' contracts are due to expire this summer.
CJ Stander, Peter O'Mahony, and Keith Earls' contracts are due to expire this summer.

MUNSTER HEAD COACH Johann van Graan has underlined the province’s hopes of retaining important players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of the season.

With the IRFU having lifted a pause on contract negotiations in recent weeks, Munster and the three other Irish provinces have been able to begin making formal offers to players again.

Three of their highest-profile players – captain Peter O’Mahony, number eight CJ Stander, and wing Keith Earls – are on central IRFU contracts that expire in June, meaning they and their agents will deal directly with the union’s performance director, David Nucifora.

Munster will hope to retain all three beyond the end of the current campaign, while they will also be negotiating with a range of senior and academy players whose contracts are up for renewal.

The likes of Mike Haley, JJ Hanrahan, Jack O’Donoghue, Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam, Rhys Marshall, Billy Holland, Fineen Wycherley, Calvin Nash, Tommy O’Donnell, James Cronin, Neil Cronin, and Nick McCarthy are among the players whose deals are due to expire this summer.

While it seems unlikely that Munster will re-contract every single player amidst the financial strains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, van Graan is hopeful that the province can hold onto most of them.

“It’s ongoing, we’re busy talking to players but in fairness, everybody knows that’s it a very difficult time in the world and rugby is no different,” said van Graan.

“Once we have something to confirm, we will. It’s a good thing that people are part of a club they’re proud to be part of.

“Hopefully, we can retain the majority of our players.”

There was positive news for Munster last week as La Rochelle head coach Ronan O’Gara used his Irish Examiner column to reveal that the Top 14 club had been unsuccessful with an approach for academy out-half Jack Crowley.

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The 21-year-old recently made his senior Munster debut and has seemingly backed himself to continue progressing with his native province. Van Graan opted against commenting on the situation, stressing that “once we’ve got any contract update from Munster’s side, we will update you.”

Munster fans were also encouraged by news that Glasgow Warriors – who had made an approach to Munster academy out-half Ben Healy – have signed Scotland international Duncan Weir ahead of next season.

It’s understood that Munster have now offered Healy a senior contract to keep him at the province beyond this summer.

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