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IRFU rules out picking foreign-based players for Ireland

David Nucifora has stated that Ireland will continue with not selecting players who ply their trade abroad despite financial issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The IRFU High Performance Director held a virtual media briefing to provide updates on a number of issues currently affecting Irish rugby in light of the year’s monetary pressures.

A number of players will be out of contract with the IRFU and their respective provinces next summer, including Johnny Sexton, CJ Stander and Iain Henderson.

Those contract negotiations were originally set to take place this month but the ongoing financial uncertainties means they will now take place early next year.

Nucifora did give assurances that all high-profile players would be given new contracts despite the significant budget restrictions.

“I don’t foresee that, at all. The thing that we’ve had to do, like any responsible business would do, is look at the feasibility of where we’re going to be, financially, and it’s a really hard thing to predict in these times of massive uncertainty.”

“I don’t believe that [job losses] are a risk, at all, at this point in time,” Nucifora said.

However, the former Australian international said no changes would be made considering Ireland’s policy on picking players based abroad, despite the likely pay cuts in store for players.

“No, we’ve got no intention of doing that at the moment,” said Nucifora. “The position we’re in, at the moment, is the position we’ve been in all along.

“If players choose not to play their rugby in Ireland, it’s unlikely that we would select them.

“There’s no hard-and-fast rule about that, we’ve never had one, but our attitude towards it wouldn’t change. We’ll be selecting the players that stay here and play for our provinces,” Nucifora explained.

When asked about the possibility of crowds at next year’s Six Nations Championship, Nucifora said he had some hope for limited attendances.

“It’s still hard to say at the moment whether there will be or won’t be,” said Nucifora.

“I think over the last number of weeks, the health department and the government have been pretty occupied with just general business leading into the Christmas period.

“Things will probably be reassessed come the New Year as to the feasibility of getting fans back into stadiums.

“You would like to think that there could possibly be some pilot programmes of getting small numbers into stadia at least by the Six Nations,” Nucifora said.

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