Johann Van Graan: welcome to Munster.
The new South African coach has barely got his feet under his new desk in Limerick, and immediately faces the prospect of his back row being gutted. Irish Rugby's limited financial resources, allied with its depth of playing talent, means that there probably is not enough money to go around, and the shortfall looks like affecting Munster once again. Having already lost Simon Zebo and Donncha Ryan, two reports by Gavin Cummiskey in The Irish Times confront Munster fans with the prospect of losing Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander.
Today's piece in the paper of record claims that Stander could triple his salary by moving to the Top 14, although has less detail regarding the contract tabled in Ireland. Stander's offer is likely not to be a central contract, however, given the relative increase on offer in France, per the Times report, and the fact that Jamie Heaslip has been tied down to that contract until after the 2019 World Cup.
The IRFU must now stave off another potential exodus of stars, with a host of players out of contract at the end of this season. Along with O'Mahony and Stander, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose, Rory Best, Rob Kearney, Iain Henderson, Tommy Bowe, and Jared Payne all out of contract at the end of the season.
Furlong and Ringrose are pretty much guaranteed to be offered bumper central contracts, as is Henderson, although he has been very open in admitting that he is willing to move abroad to maximise his value.
These reports about O'Mahony and Stander may solely be the players' representatives seeking to put some pressure on the Union, but nonetheless, it is a major worry for Munster fans, and a deeply frustrating distraction for Van Graan.