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New Zealand Media Say Munster Chasing All Black Star, While Keatley Nears French Move

New Zealand Media Say Munster Chasing All Black Star, While Keatley Nears French Move
Gavan Casey
By Gavan Casey
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Munster are being linked with a lucrative swoop for New Zealand vice captain Ben Smith in both French and New Zealand media this morning, as the 60-cap fullback eyes greener pastures in Europe.

Stuff.co.nz suggests Smith is inclined to follow old All Black teammate Dan Carter to Europe, and says Munster are 'courting' the 30-year-old, as are a number of French clubs.

On the topic of Smith's potential departure, New Zealand Rugby contracts manager Chris Lendrum admitted that - in spite of a $70 million boost in funding for the players in the new collective agreement over the next three years - they simply cannot keep everyone:

These are big decisions for them, particularly if you look at Ben's case there's a lot of interest in him. Ben is top of the market place and so the offers for him offshore are very, very strong so it takes a while to work through all of that.

As I understand it the range that was in the public domain for Dan Carter at Racing Metro is about right and I don't think Ben Smith would be too shy of that.

He could be high six or early seven figures in Euros and then there's tax breaks and advantages that come with that so the actual earnings in hand are different from how they might be in New Zealand.


French rugby writer Gavin Mortimer this morning tweeted that Midi Olympique have also caught wind of Munster's pursuit of Smith, who has scored 44 tries for the All Blacks:


Mortimer also echoed further reports from Midi that Munster fly-half Ian Keatley is nearing a move to the Top 14 with Bayonne, with the 29-year-old set to face increased competition for game time next season.

Keatley has scored 1,016 points for his adopted province in 139 appearances, but with JJ Hanrahan set to return to Munster next season, coupled with the return of supremely-talented teenage prodigy Bill Johnston, there may be simply too much competition for Tyler Bleyendaal's 10 shirt in 2017.

Keatley scored 17 points against his prospective new club in Connacht's 35-21 win at Stade Jean Dauger in 2011.


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