Hawkeye Sidekick

What a difference twenty-four hours makes?

keith_earls

Introduction

The obituaries were written, the farewell tributes were being inked and then this afternoon came the news that Keith Earls had agreed to a three year IRFU contract and with it staying with Munster. The news coupled with the contract extension to pivotal scrum-half Conor Murray is fantastic news for the province. Hawkeye Sidekick reviews the last twenty-four hours.

Media Speculation off the mark (again)

If there is a lesson yet again to be learned from this story, it is that until a player signs on the dotted line, speculation linking a player to a particular club is pure and utter speculation. It is not the first time that the Irish Independent has being caught rotten in speculating on the future of Munster players. Cast our mind back a couple of weeks ago and the publication printed that James Cronin was scheduled to sign for London Irish only for the Cork native to sign a contract extension with the province only twenty-four hours after the story hit the press.

The same pattern emerged in the Keith Earls story; close sources were enough to print that Earls was destined for Saracens but as in Cronin’s case, a contract renewal was signed with Munster. The Irish Independent may need to look long and hard over the sources after these incidences. The reporting was very very superficial; cited in Earl’s situation that it was family and not financial gain for the purported move to England. Can you please be more specific? The statement alone left questions a plenty on the player and his family situation which to be frank was quite disappointing. The Irish Independent editor needs to have a word with their sporting correspondents in the light of this inaccurate story. Their credibility for breaking rugby stories is now akin to a contributor on a rugby message board such is its credence at this juncture. Time to reflect and report on the cold hard facts gentlemen.

Player Viewpoint

Keith Earls was left in an uncompromising position yesterday morning with the media reports virtually stating that he was upping sticks to Saracens. A response was required immediately by both the player and Munster Rugby to stake on record the situation and so it proved today with the three year contract extension which runs until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Munster and Keith Earls resolved the innuendo immediately, decisive action from both parties.

The contract extension for Conor Murray was along expected lines; the players repeatedly went on record stating that he wanted to stay with the province. There were probably suitors for the talented scrum-half but Murray’s desire to wear the red jersey of Munster and continue his career with the national team (question marks over overseas players eligibility) won the day.

The good news over Keith Earls and Conor Murray is tempered by the fact that there is still no contract update on Simon Zebo. Will we see more speculation by the broadsheets on the back of the player’s uncertain future? It does not look good when both parties remain moot on the topic. We are heading into February next week and recruitment planning for next season should be complete. Munster have at least seven players still in contract limbo including Zebo and to be honest for all parties’ stake, swift resolution is required whether the player resign or leave for pastures new.

Munster Rugby – The Future?

Where Munster Rugby go in terms of identifying squad replacements in the front row, potential competition at the out-half position is some way off considering the current squad player contract situation? Transition will be the keyword yet again next season and there are question marks whether Axel Foley will be at the helm at that stage. Munster Rugby may feel satisfied today but more problems will need to be solved in the weeks to come; interesting times lie ahead for the province and how they aim to improve in all facets of the organization.