Early days yet, but Munster fans are currently beset by the gnawing possibility that their back-row could be gutted by the start of next season. Having already lost Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo, the province have this week had to face the possibility that Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander may join the exodus. The newspaper reports linking them with an exit may be nothing more than a negotiating tactic for now, meaning it may all be averted, but it is an uncomfortable prospect nonetheless.
Donncha O'Callaghan dedicates his column in today's Times Ireland Edition to tales of contract renewals from his career at Munster, in which he reveals how creative Declan Kidney got when trying to stretch his resources to hang onto his talented squad. Back in O'Callaghan's day around 15 years ago, €35,000 was pretty much the wage for a front-line player at Munster. The problem, however, was the relative lack of top salaries to go around.
I felt by now I was worth a Munster contract. So too did Marcus Horan, though. There were a limited number of €35,000s to go around. Only Deccie could have come up with the following solution — and got us to agree to it. With Marcus being a prop and me a lock you couldn’t call it job sharing, but we halved the contract money: €17,500 each for the new season.
So, come the next negotiation, as an established Munster player accustomed to playing in front of huge crowds, having played for Ireland A and closing in on my first cap, I resolved to try to break the €20,000-a-year ceiling.
The problem with that, said Deccie, was it would mean giving Marcus less.
Give Marcus less? How could I possibly take money from Marcus? We were a band of brothers! So on we marched to the next season, still sharing a wage.
O'Callaghan does not betray any hint of bitterness toward Kidney or the IRFU, however.
You can read the column in full on the Times' website.