After Simon Zebo announced that he will be leaving Munster at the end of the season, shockwaves went through Irish Rugby.
The lure of bumper contracts in France is something that has certainly been a factor for Ireland’s top players for some time now, but the country’s stance on international selection among other things has prevented the floodgates from opening to any major degree.
However, there is a fear this season that perhaps there could be an exodus of the country’s best players at the end of the season. There are currently some high profile stars who will be out of contract come next summer. These include Peter O’Mahony, Jared Payne, Rob Kearney, Rory Best, Tommy Bowe, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furling, Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Andrew Conway.
Reports emerged yesterday that Munster and the IRFU could have a fight on their hands to hold onto O’Mahony. The Lions captain for the first test last summer is sure to be on the radar for some of the European heavyweights and could be given a lucrative offer.
According to a report in the Irish Times today, CJ Stander is also weighing up his options, and his salary could be trebled should he elect to move.
As Ireland continue to build towards the World Cup in 2019, the union will be eager to sign up their brightest talents on long contracts to ensure the national team heads to Japan with its strongest hand.