A Look At All The Irish Players Currently In The Last Season Of Their Contracts

Nervous times ahead.

All the talk over the last couple of weeks has been about Ireland and the depth that Joe Schmidt has managed to build since exiting the 2015 Rugby World Cup at the quarter final stage.

After an excellent summer and a perfect November series, with a number of new players coming through, Irish fans have been quietly excited about their Six Nations, and even 2019 Rugby World Cup chances.

A problem however, has now arisen that a lot of us thought wouldn’t affect Ireland. English and French money. It’s been around for quite a while now, but up until this season, the IRFU have been lucky. The only real prominent player that got poached was Johnny Sexton, but he was quickly brought back and it was brushed under the carpet.

We’ve always thought that the Irish players will not give up their international careers, especially now when we’re so close to a Rugby World Cup. But Simon Zebo’s decision to leave has changed all that. Now Peter O’Mahony could be on his way too.

Even Iain Henderson last month said he’s weighing up his options.

Here’s a list of Irish players in the last season of their contracts from what we can gather:

Rob Kearney – Central contract
The Leinster fullback is currently on an IRFU contract, and his negotiations could cause uproar. At 31, and with his injury-record he probably shouldn’t get another IRFU contract, but the chances are he will. While Ireland will and should want to keep him, a Leinster contract is all he’s worth right now.

CJ Stander – Provincial deal
Stander isn’t currently on an IRFU contract as his international career was only beginning when he signed his deal. Should be offered one this time round, and if he’s not, once again expect uproar.

Peter O’Mahony – Central contract
Currently on an IRFU contract, but has turned now a new one as of now. Negotiations will continue, but it’s clear O’Mahony feels he is being undervalued in the current market.

Kieran Marmion – Provincial deal
Will likely be offered just a provincial deal, and rightly so to be fair.

Jared Payne – Central contract
Payne is currently on a central contract, but with his current injury problems it’s unlikely he’ll be offered another one. That being said, he’s a favourite of Schmidt, so who knows.

Rory Best – Central contract
This is an interesting one. There’s absolutely no way Best is going to uproot and leave at this stage, but is he deserving of another central deal? At 35 years of age it’s another tough one. At the same time, how can your captain not have an IRFU deal? We’ll leave this one to the suits.

Iain Henderson – Provincial deal
The Ulster and Lions second-row has said he is keeping his options open. A central contract offer needs to be put on the table here as Ireland will be hoping to build their engine room around him going forward.

Tommy Bowe – Central contract
Past his past unfortunately and unlikely to go anywhere. Will have to settle for a provincial deal, freeing up some much needed cash.

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