If you have been a regular listener to the Hawkeye Sidekick Podcast this season, the topic of Ben Healy and his future has not been far away from Munster Rugby discussions this term.
Liam O’Briain and I felt that either Glasgow Warriors or Edinburgh Rugby would come in for the Tipperary native eventually this season.
With Duncan Weir near to confirming a contract extension with the Warriors, Edinburgh Rugby was the prime candidate and today’s news is absolutely no surprise.
Munster Rugby’s press release at pains to highlight that they tried their best to retain the services of a homegrown player whose best days on a rugby pitch are yet to come. The press release was choreographed to the minute detail but the decision was a clear cut one.
The question here is this. Would Ben Healy be the main man long term at ten in the province? Would the team be built around the player? The answer on the basis of this season is a firm no and despite the pros and cons highlighted in the press release, this is the right move at the right time for Ben Healy to take.
Munster Rugby have nailed their colours to the mast for Jack Crowley as the guy to run this ball club long term.
The question I have to ask is where now for Joey Carbery post RWC 2023? Crowley looks the long term bet for the province. Carbery’s career with the province has been deeply frustrating with flashes of promise amid the injury layoffs and then looking to establish form from those layoffs. This is another storyline to closely monitor.
Ireland management have run the rule over Healy. They have the player down the pecking order. The following line stood out in the press release from Ben Healy.
“I have career objectives I wish to target, and I believe a move to a club such as Edinburgh Rugby gives me the best opportunity to fulfil my professional goals.Munster Rugby Press Release – Jan 4th 2023
Professional goals of a rugby union player is to win silverware and also play at international test match level.
Ben Healy has the opportunity to achieve success with an Edinburgh Rugby whose back line unit is potent and with a pack who are progressively improving with each passing season. URC playoff contenders and a team going in the right direction both from an infrastructural and player personnel perspective.
The Scottish international angle is one which will develop naturally. Healy’s boot is a huge asset to any ball club. His ability to execute massive touch finders, his torpedo style kicks off the tee, his progression in game management and execution in open play.
Edinburgh Rugby are picking up a player whose upside is considerable. Gregor Townsend no doubt has duly noted that as well along with his versatility to play twelve and full back for the Irish province.
Munster Rugby said goodbye to Jake Flannery last season and now Ben Healy at the end of this season. Professional sport is a cut-throat business. These are elite prospects who need regular game minutes so decisions like today need to be assessed.
You do wonder sometimes about the IRFU policy in player loan deals during a season? If players need game time and squads need a specific position covered due to injury, it would be a good match. That is for another day.
Ben Healy as third choice in the province one would argue could have looked for an early release from his contract to join his new club now. He has remained loyal to the ball club til the end of the season but if he is not playing down the stretch, why prevent the development of the player by having Healy languish in the stands?
Healy realistically knew that the game was up after his cameo against South Africa XV in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. The ten was standout in tough weather conditions but then was dropped from the next matchday squad. The decision if there was any doubt was made there and then. It is the right move for the player. Best of luck to Ben!
Carbery and Crowley fight it out for the ten jersey in Munster Rugby from next season onward. It remains to be seen if Munster Rugby will look to recruit a backup ten for next season.
Will they look within the academy or within the Irish provinces for squad depth in the position as it will be required with RWC 2023 fast approaching. Rory Scannell comes into the fray as a backup option along with Tony Butler from the academy.
This news as mentioned was no surprise and it is again another sign for Munster Rugby that homegrown players are willing to move from their home club to achieve their career goals.
Recruitment needs to be significantly expedited within the province to offset the personnel losses in recent months and last season. January to March personnel news will make or break this ball club long term regardless of who is playing at ten for the province.
Professional sports are cut throat and this is the side of the business which is always tough to see. Player departures. It is not the first player departure from the ball club in the coming weeks. It will be intriguing to see who else joins Ben Healy out of the province.