The president of the IRFU has said that Robbie Henshaw would have to move to another province if Joe Schmidt insists on it.
Pat Fitzgerald was speaking to Shannonside FM when he said that the national team comes first, and Henshaw would have to move away from Connacht if Joe Schmidt deems it necessary.
Said Fitzgerald: “That’s a difficult one, I don’t have the answer. All I can say is that if the national coach feels that Robbie Henshaw would be better playing in another province, then the green team, I’m afraid, has to come first.”
One can speculate as to which team would be most likely to take him on should such a transfer be ordered, while Connacht coach Pat Lam could feel justifiably aggrieved by such top-level meddling. However Henshaw is of course employed by the IRFU, so any potential move would be legitimate.
In the same interview, Fitzgerald mentioned that while the Westerners might lose their centre wunderkind, the province will receive increased funding to assist the steady growth of the game there.
“We are just about to announce a new chief executive for Connacht, and as of yesterday the IRFU have agreed to continue to fund Connacht and fund Connacht at a greater level than ever before,” he said.
“So from anybody that is thinking about rugby who are living west of the Shannon, the future is looking very bright for Connacht."
Fitzgerald also spoke of how the IRFU can combat the threat of players making big-money moves to France.
“We have realised if we have to compete at cheque book level we ain’t going to be able to, so we have to offer something else." he said.
"What we offer is lifestyle, number one, it is how we protect them, in a lot of cases we nearly protect them from themselves. A professional player playing for Ireland will play around 24 games a year. Jonny Sexton and people like that will probably play closer to 40 in France. It prolongs their shelf life if they stay in Ireland.”