The news that Ian Madigan will join French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Bègles at the end of the current season was met with frustration by many fans of Leinster rugby, and the news that Marty Moore is also off to join Wasps appears to have compounded the misery as the province has lost two young talents to foreign clubs.
While many are upset amid fears of an exodus of talent due to the expiration of a number of IRFU contracts, Joe Schmidt this week praised Keith Earls and Conor Murray for signings extensions and following their heart rather than their bank balance, but new Ireland captain Rory Best (who has legally changed his name to 'New Ireland Captain Rory Best' by the way) sees Madigan's departure differently.
The Ulster front-row has given Madigan credit for his decision and clarifies that he doesn't see it as cause for concern while speaking to RTÉ Sport:
Ultimately Ian Madigan moved because he wants to go and get top-flight rugby. He’s competing against one of the best out-halves in the world [in Johnny Sexton] which is obviously going to limit his game time.
But I wouldn't necessarily say it’s a worry. If you look at it across the Premiership and the Top 14, there are a lot more players moving clubs and moving around regularly. In Ireland because it doesn’t happen very often whenever we get one or two and maybe another one rumoured to go it becomes a big deal.
Best continued to explain how his negotiations had always gone smoothly with the IRFU, and conceded that if a player is not offered what he believes to be a fair deal, then there is little option but to seek alternative options.
From my point of view it’s always gone fairly seamlessly because the IRFU have been good at conducting their business. If I get a fair offer, I’m happy to negotiate around that. If there wasn’t a fair offer then your hands can sometimes be forced.
We're looking forward to seeing how Best gets on as the Irish captain. The news was well received among Irish rugby fans, mainly because he is a leader on the pitch and off it he seems like a very sensible guy altogether. His view on Madigan's departure would certainly add to that idea.
It's certainly good to see the Irish captain sticking up for his international team-mates where others have been critical, now lets see how he leads on the pitch during the Six Nations, which thankfully isn't too far away now.