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Pat Lam Highlights The Key Aspect That's Being Overlooked In The Henshaw Debate

Pat Lam Highlights The Key Aspect That's Being Overlooked In The Henshaw Debate
By Gavin Cooney

There is a strand of thought among some rugby commentators that Robbie Henshaw's move to Leinster is further proof of the IRFU disregarding Connacht in favour of the traditionally stronger provinces. (This is a belief that does not take into account the current Pro12 table).

Last October, Geroge Hook wrote about this issue, blaming the IRFU for picking off a talented Connacht team:

What kind of message is the IRFU sending to Connacht players and supporters if, as soon as there is a hint of success, the best young players are stripped away and packed off to other teams? How are Connacht supposed to develop and improve if they are continually treated like a feeder farm for their provincial rivals?

Now, because Leinster click their fingers and because the IRFU is not strong enough to stand over Connacht's development, the brightest star is being whisked away. It is nothing short of a disgrace.

This is an analysis that disregards an important part of the transfer: the fact that Robbie Henshaw is a carbon-based biped like the rest of us, although with a heightened ability to offload.

Henshaw is a free-thinking individual and the fact that he personally may have quite liked to move to Dublin has been disregarded by some of those commenting on the transfer in an attempt to criticise the IRFU.

To portray Henshaw as being helplessly dragged East across the Shannon by the IRFU - as some have done - is plainly wrong.

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The fact this is inaccurate is borne out by Pat Lam's comments this morning, in which he confirms he is satisfied that the IRFU did their utmost to convince Henshaw to remain at Connacht.

Lam confirmed that the IRFU's Performance Director David Nucifora worked closely with Connacht CEO Willie Ruane in a bid to keep Henshaw at the Sportsgrounds, and was satisfied that the IRFU tried to retain Connacht's employment of the Irish centre.

Without a doubt. Willie [Ruane] did a tremendous job for us, IRFU as well. There are three parties involved in that. The whole process, we did everything we can, but again it comes down to the player's decision. You respect the player's decision.

There are a lot of factors. I always say, as I make my decisions. If my wife says she doesn't enjoy it here or in Connacht or in Galway then I wouldn't be here. That's one example. There are many factors when people make decisions, it's no different from people out in the working world in any job you weigh everything up.

Lam admits that Henshaw's departure is disappointing, but he's optimistic for the future and he's even raising the possibility that he will return to play with Connacht in the future. And if Connacht continue their upward curve under Lam, there's every reason to believe that if that does happen, he'll be returning to a genuine Pro12 contender. Even if he might take a bit of replacing in the short term.

[Independent.ie]

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