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Munster Aim For 'Big Name' Signing But There's An IRFU Shaped Problem

Munster Aim For 'Big Name' Signing But There's An IRFU Shaped Problem
By PJ Browne Updated

Munster rugby is at a low right now. The province exited the Champions Cup at the group stage for the second consecutive year and currently sit sixth in the Pro12 table.

Speaking on a podcast for the Munster Rugby website, John Kelly, the 17-cap Ireland international winger who is currently chairman of the province's Professional Game Board related frustration regarding the IRFU's policy for the signing of international players.

You have to look at our restrictions, there’s a perception out there that we can just sign a player no matter what his nationality or wherever he’s from which isn’t the case.

If you have Ruan Pienaar in Ulster it means that the other provinces can’t sign a NIQ No 9 so there’s a restriction on you straight away that you have to go after Irish players or players who can become Irish for the No 9 slot.

The IRFU has a big input on who you can sign and in what positions you can sign. If you’re looking for what we call the marquee player, and Frankie Saili would be in that marker, he’s an All Black, we would have to go and get permission to sign a centre and in particular a 13 and because of that no other province don’t have the permission to sign a 13.

According to Kelly, Munster are looking for a player who would make a major 'impact' on the team.

We’re always looking at our own succession plan and asking where do we need something special or a marquee player because when you go after a marquee player you’re not just filling a gap with somebody who’s slightly better than an Irish player, we want to go out into the market and get a player who is significantly going to impact our team

Who could that big impact player be? Earlier this month, the province was linked with a move for Johan Goosen - the Springbok out-half currently with Racing Metro. Goosen has six caps for South Africa but has slipped down the pecking order at the Top 14 side due to the arrival of Dan Carter and Remi Tales.

At one stage in his career, Goosen was viewed as 'the next big thing' in South African rugby. At the age of 23, he could possibly be a player to come in and challenge Ian Keatley for the number ten jersey.

Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

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