Over the weekend it emerged that Robbie Henshaw had yet to be offered a contract from the IRFU.
As the player who was earmarked to replace Brian O’Driscoll, Robbie Henshaw lived up to such lofty expectations, bursting onto the international scene last season.
While Irish rugby fans have long believed that Henshaw would emerge as one of Ireland’s star players, his performances at the World Cup allied to his contractual situation, have raised questions over his future.
1. Remain at Connacht
Although Connacht have made huge strides under Pat Lam, it might be the case that Henshaw has outgrown the western province.
Conacht’s failure to qualify for this season’s Champions Cup, means that their star player is not competing in European rugby’s elite competition.
Indeed, although Connacht currently sit on top of the Pro 12 table, they face a number of tough fixtures over the coming months and as a result, could find themselves in another dog fight to make the top six come the new year.
Although many fans would like to see Henshaw remain at Connacht for the immediate future at least, such an outcome seems highly unlikely.
2. Move to Leinster
When Robbie Henshaw’s contract last came up for renewal, it was rumoured that Leinster were interested in signing the Athlone native. A feature underlined when Matt O’Connor admitted that he admired Henshaw last season.
With both Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll coming to the end of their careers, such a move made perfect sense. However since then, Leinster have seen the emergence of Noel Reid and the impressive Gary Ringrose.
Leo Cullen’s charges also have the option of deploying Ian Madigan in midfield, and despite Ben Te’o not making the desired impression, Luke Fitzgerald underlined his credential at the World Cup.
With so much Irish talent available to the Blues, would the IRFU’s performance director, David Nucifora, give the go ahead for such a move?
3. Join Munster
Since 2009 it has been evident that Munster have struggled in midfield. Various centres and centre partnerships have come and gone, as the province have struggled to find creativity.
Although Keith Earls was selected at 13 for Ireland during the World Cup, his best performances have come as a winger, where he can utilise his lightening pace to devastating effect.
Likewise, Denis Hurley has struggled to make an impact in Munster’s high profile games, Tyler Bleyendaal has suffered through injury since his arrival last season, and while Francis Saili has impressed in attack so far, question marks have been raised over his defence.
It would therefore make sense for Hensahw to move south and help revitalise Munster’s misfiring midfield.
4. Move Abroad
When Henshaw spoke to the media on Saturday, he claimed that he had received offers from clubs outside Ireland. Indeed the centre has previously stated that he would like to play in France at some point in his career.
While expressing such sentiment has become part and parcel of IRFU contract renewal’s, the loss of Johnny Sexton and JJ Hanrahan in recent years means that the Union cannot take anything for granted.
With Henshaw having said that he wishes to have his contract negotiations completed by Christmas, the IRFU will have to act fast or risk making the same mistake they did when Sexton left for Racing Metro in 2013.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena