It wasn't a huge shock when it was announced that Ian Madigan would be leaving Leinster - but there was still a number of people who were annoyed that he wasn't staying within Irish Rugby.
The talented playmaker has had his development stunted somewhat by playing second-fiddle to Jimmy Gopperth and Johnny Sexton for Leinster and Ireland over the course of the last three seasons - and you can't blame the Blackrock star in moving for first team opportunities.
But Madigan did reveal that Joe Schmidt tried to talk him out of the move. Schmidt appeared to intervene when a number of players were linked with moves away this year. It seemed to work with James Cronin, Keith Earls, and Simon Zebo - but Marty Moore and Madigan were two that fell through the net.
Madigan said that Schmidt's desire for him to stay hinted that he would find it harder to be involved in the international set-up:
The conversation I had with Joe, he made it clear to me that he wants me to stay in Ireland, and ultimately it’s where we want Irish players playing. The IRFU have access to you, they can manage you, you’re not overplayed, the fantastic medical facilities we have here.
If you want to have mini-camps or if there’s games outside the international window, they’ve got full control over that. That’s very important, and if I was starting for Leinster, there’s no way I’d move.
Ultimately though, Madigan was frustrated at the lack of game-time he was getting. It was suggested that maybe he'd have been better off moving to Munster or Connacht - as a number of players have done, and the arrival of David Nucifora was going to signal a new dawn of spreading resources around the provinces. But while Madigan said it would be a tough thing to consider - it never really came up as an option for him to move within the Irish Rugby structures.
The option that presented itself in Bordeaux was one that came up early on and one that I was committed to from an early stage. Munster are going through a small slump at the moment, but to play for a club like that, with the history they have, would be incredible.
But would I be able to do it? I’ve grown up in Leinster, all my family support Leinster, all my friends support Leinster; it would be really tough. The parochial sense that you have in playing for Leinster or playing for Munster is a pretty special thing in Ireland.
Similarly, when you see the quality brand of rugby that Connacht are playing at the moment, you look at that and I’d say to myself, ‘Jesus, it would be brilliant to be part of that side as well’.
It’s definitely something that I would have thought of, but it never really came to fruition.
Have Irish Rugby missed a trick here? Is this another player lost to an overseas club because the chief negotiator David Nucifora was on holidays during the main contract negotiation periods?
Would Munster or Connacht be better off if Madigan had joined them?
We'll never know, because it looks like it was never an option.
Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE