Foreign player system back to bite Connacht
Prop Joe’s philosophy is “Buy for a dollar, sell for two”, which makes him an ideal business associate of Spiros “Vondas” Vondopoulos and The Greek, who say “It’s just business. Everything is just business with us”.
The Wire has many cagey characters but all agree business is the driving force behind the dark acts of decisions. This week Gerry Thornley announced the departure of Mike McCarthy from Connacht to Leinster and with it the wheel of business turned once more.
There obviously is a Catch-22 for Connacht which runs far deeper than the loss of a player I’ve admired for some time. It’s the message there is an advantage to be gained from a stint at Connacht (shop window and international honours) but for really ambitious players the province should be viewed as a temporary arrangement in building profiles before moving on to reap the real rewards.
However, Connacht, with so many positive changes, have developed an ambition of their own and consequently find themselves in a Catch-22. Developing players for Ireland but stunting their own development. I wonder if McCarthy was a starting player in Munster but approached from Leinster would it happen? This is not a Leinster issue. What therefore is the strategic position from the IRFU – cannibalism?
On the announcement of the foreign player system I highlighted the potential death knell for Connacht where the big three’s limitation on attracting players from abroad would create an internal cannibalisation of Connacht. Secondrow Eoin Sheriff may be involved for Saracens next Sunday and of course there’s Tom Hayes in Exeter Chiefs, both allowed to drift across the water.
I, for one, am delighted for the players but feel for Connacht who when trying to attract more stars – such as Dan Parks – will no doubt face the question: ‘why would I go there when you can’t keep your best players?’
Massive pressure remains on all teams, none more so than on Munster and Saracens. What will Saracens do differently to redress the balance? Rob Penney managed transition in the cauldron of Thomond Park with a fantastic win, with Chris Ashton , who scored a try against the All Blacks, failing to cross.
I was unimpressed with both Northampton and Saracens. They couldn’t be as bad this weekend so the question for Ulster and Munster is what to expect and what needs to be done to avoid a defeat.Ulster’s challenge will grow considerably if Northampton change their half-back pairing, where scrumhalf Martin Roberts’ pass was extremely slow and full of air, which made it hard for Ryan Lamb to get his backs moving. Stephen Myler may bring a better kicking average as Lamb’s misses were inexcusable.