Bill Byrne discusses three hypothetical trades that could occur if the IRFU were to implement a draft system in Irish rugby.
With news swirling around that BJ Botha is looking to hang up his boots, Munster are on the lookout for a replacement. One theory being floated is that the IRFU will keep this process ‘in-house’ and look to Leinster, where the top two Irish tight-heads are currently on the books.
With both Mike Ross and Marty Moore splitting time for province and country, the prevailing argument is that splitting them up gives the duo more game time at provincial level which helps the international team. However, when such moves are mandated from on high, it leaves the fans of one club with a sour taste at the ‘time and effort’ put into a prospect, only for the suits to move them elsewhere for no compensation whatsoever.
This is most galling for Connacht, as it has happened countless times to the westerners. However, what if there was a mutually beneficial solution we could find? What if we looked to other sports and their trading system, this way both clubs benefit and therefore the national team and the union also benefit, as the “a rising tide raises all boats” idiom goes.
Trades are also fun conversation fodder and fuel the ‘who-got-the-better-of-that-trade?” debate. Let’s have a look at some trades the IRFU could make that would leave all the teams in stronger shape than they possess currently.
Hypothetical Trade No.1: Marty Moore – Leinster to Munster
With Mike Ross turning 36 in December, Munster may deem him a useless signing as they will find themselves in a similar situation in two-three seasons.
Additionally, Tadhg Furlong’s inexperience means he is probably one or two years away from lining out in a hypothetical Munster pack that would be expected to challenge in Europe. This could see the Munster men set their sights on Leinster’s Marty Moore.
Moore is an established an Irish international so Leinster would certainly need one of his international peers in the trade. The Boys In Blue need more depth at second row, and despite Paulie’s departure, Munster have depth to target there. With Donnacha Ryan getting back to his barnstorming best and Mark Chisholm signed, Dave Foley could be the one sent to Ballsbridge.
This trade improves Leinster’s left-side lock depth with Devin Toner, Dave Foley and the signing of Mick Kearney from Connacht as of next season. That’s one side of the engine roomed locked down for the next few seasons, and a shrewd signing at that.
Tightheads are a rare breed so this writer would predict Leinster looking for more from the deal. Leo Cullen’s side need another body to fill the trucking-it-up role in the centres, and this comes at the same time that Munster have made the flashy signing of Frances Saili from Auckland.
The Southern Hemisphere signing could put Denis Hurley on ice in Limerick. His skill-set of being a direct carrier could be what Leinster are looking for as they enter the post-Gordon Darcy era. Lastly, to use an MLB/NBA turn of phrase, two Munster academy ‘prospects’ would be sent to the East Coast with their Munster teammates.
Done Deal: Marty Moore traded to Munster in exchange for Dave Foley, Dennis Hurley, and two academy prospects.
Hypothetical Trade No.2: Craig Gilroy – Ulster to Munster
Gilroy is a speedster who seems to have fallen out of favour in Ulster, but with homegrown wingers like Bowe and Trimble, there are not many that would get into that reckoning. Add in imports like Louis Ludik and Jared Payne and that back three is fairly well locked out.
Leinster and Connacht are reasonably well served for wings, so what of Munster? Full back and Zebo’s wing are both set, however there is another wing to consider and more depth would not go astray there. Gilroy could fit very nicely into that system. Munster fans won’t forget him after his excellent when Ulster stormed Thomond in the Heineken Cup.
So what would it take to make the trade happen? Well, Nick Williams was hit and miss, and Roger Wilson has shown all he is going to show, so Ulster could do with more options at No. 8.
25-year-old Paddy Butler has an abundance of potential, somewhat balancing the trade given that back rows are far more premium than wingers. Ulster might finagle a prospect at hooker out of Munster just to feel that little bit better about saying goodbye to a good Ravenhill servant.
Done Deal: Craig Gilroy traded to Munster in exchange for Paddy Butler and an academy prospect hooker.
UPDATE: Paddy Butler has signed for Pau.
Hypothetical Trade No.3: Conor Murray – Munster to Leinster
Our last hypothetical trade is undoubtedly one that would lead to Leinster fans lining out in their thousands in Ballsbridge announcing the arrival of the greatest half-back partnership in European rugby; Conor Murray linking up with Jonathan Sexton.
There is no way Munster would consider letting go of this prodigious talent, but for the sake of argument, what would Leinster have to give up to make this uber-deal happen? Let the “RGIII trade package” talk commence.
Leinster badly need to freshen things up at scrum half. Young Luke McGrath is coming through nicely but his active predecessors are creaking and scrum half could very quickly turn into a problem position for Leo’s Lions.
Munster would certainly be looking for at least three starters (two of which would be of international standard) in addition to some young talented prospects.
Zane Kirchner takes a hard time, but last season he was consistently good. Munster need depth back there and the South African would be a good piece of business. Anthony Foley would then take his pick of Eoin Reddan (34) or Isaac Boss (35). With Boss proving more of a readymade replacement for Murray’s kicking game, he would get the nod to head to Thomond.
To complete the deal, Munster would need one of the two international tight heads for sure, and as discussed earlier, Marty Moore would be their presumed target.
As a sweetener, Leinster would give Munster a written assurance that they will not compete for Robbie Henshaw when his Connacht contract expires in the summer of 2016.
Finally, a few academy kids such as Cathal Marsh, Peter Dooley and Collie O’Shea, all of which had good club seasons, would leave Munster with a decent package.
Done Deal: Conor Murray traded to Leinster in exchange for Zane Kirchner, Isaac Boss, Marty Moore, academy prospects Cathal Marsh, Peter Dooley & Collie O’Shea, and the rights to Robbie Henshaw.
Naturally, this process is blue sky thinking, but if the IRFU did decide on putting a trade format into practice, we could see a more efficient allocation of resources.
What trades would you like to see? Let us know via Irish Rugby by Pundit Arena.