herald

Friday 24 November 2017

disappointment and disillusionment: how the provinces have reacted

LEINSTER

REACTION: Leinster coach Joe Schmidt (right): "I was massively disappointed in the way they did it, I know from talking to the other coaches they feel the same way.

"The timing of it and the way it was done, I was disappointed. If Ireland had beaten Wales would we be doing this? Wales have a six-plus-two policy, so they have eight foreign players and people are lauding the young players that are coming through there (Wales).

"The PCRG (Professional Contract Review Group) already have veto on whoever we get in from outside already and, if there are imbalances there, they are imbalances that have been approved by them.

LIKELY IMPACT: Isa Nacewa will be forced to leave when his contract expires. Heinke Van Der Merwe may have to move on as he is second choice behind Cian Healy and the other provinces have more pressing problems at prop.

Richardt Strauss and Steven Sykes will be permitted to stay on as they are "special project" players who may end up playing for Ireland.

Very limited control over who they bring in and where they will play.



MUNSTER:

REACTION: Munster coach Tony McGahan: "Joe and Brian certainly made their thoughts known and I am in full agreement with them.

"I don't think anyone is against the concept of what the policy has put out, but I think a couple of things we were certainly disappointed with.

"Not only disappointed but surprised with the way that it was pushed through with regards to the policy itself and certainly the way that it was put through in a week -- that was probably the thing that surprised everyone the most."

LIKELY IMPACT: Doug Howlett will have to be let go at the end of his contract and Munster are short on top quality Irish replacements. BJ Botha's position also in trouble as there are four foreign tight-head props playing in the three provinces.

Munster are in transition and, with the likes of O'Gara, O'Connell and O'Callaghan in the twilight of their careers, academy players are likely to see first team action before the guidelines come into force anyway.



CONNACHT

REACTION: Connacht coach Eric Elwood knows his team often pinch young players from the academies of Ulster, Munster and Leinster but this source of talent may dry up if the other provinces begin to hoard their academy graduates.

"You can look at it two ways; you can hope it can work in your benefit, but when it kicks in then it will have a stress on the four teams, because every other club will look after holding on to their own Irish players," he said.

LIKELY IMPACT: Exempt from the guidelines but with other provinces keeping hold of their own talent, their own fledgling academy may be placed under a lot of pressure.



ULSTER

REACTION: Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin (right): "The Irish team is why we are here, but we aren't doing too bad.

"I agree with developing players for the Irish team. To change it is the IRFU's prerogative but we should have been involved in the process."

LIKELY IMPACT: Simon Danielli, Ruan Pienaar, Pedrie Wannenburg, Johann Muller and John Afoa will be free to leave at the end of their contracts. The Ulster academy is beginning to produce top class backs but they will still need big performing foreign forwards in the future.

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