Kearney: Sexton didn't want to leave and his transfer could open the floodgates
Jonathan Sexton didn’t want to leave Dublin. Nor did he want to go to France. Yesterday Ireland team-mate Rob Kearney told a tale of IRFU pragmatism scrummaging down with a 27-year-old player about to get married and his need for financial security.
The answer to the €750,000 question was that both sides wished to find a meeting point where they could shake hands.
There was some desperation on Sexton’s side and possibly too within the IRFU. But in this modern tale of professional rugby, the market, as it often does, ruled and willingness on both sides was the casualty.
“Myself and Jonny have played a long time now,” explained Kearney. “We started off about 14, 15-years-old, two young schoolboys. So we’ve been very close and we have been talking about it. He was upset by the whole thing.
“There’s no point in lying about it. He was upset.
“I think Jonny will tell you that he probably wanted to stay. So it’s unfortunate that . . . Whatever way the negotiations went on I think he probably wanted to agree and stay and play his rugby in Ireland.
“But you can’t always get what you want.
“He’s getting married this summer, a lovely girl, so it’s a new start in life for him and I think he’s excited by that and I think he understands he has to jump head first into it.
“So, yeah, that’s professional sport, that’s what happens. I think we’ve been lucky throughout the years. It’s only now it has happened. It will test the waters.”
The peripheral damage is that behind the distraction is Declan Kidney’s plan for Ireland’s opening game against Wales and to underplay that devalues the intensity of focus that goes into preparation for a Test match.
It is also compounded by Kearney’s current position of being deep in negotiations over his own contract.
Mick Kearney, the Ireland team manager said he and Declan Kidney would be meeting with the National Team Review Group, a sub-committee of the IRFU, to discuss the poor timing of players’ contract negotiations, which this year have appeared as the perfect storm.
“You never like using the word selfish but you have to look out for yourself most of the time,” added the Ireland fullback. “You have got to think, make decisions that are best for you. That might not always mean financially. Although you do have to make decisions based on what you feel will be the best for you down the line. I think guys will always be making decisions based on that.
“I was always very keen to get it (contract) sorted before the competition. It is sort of a difficult place to be in when you are trying to determine your future and play the biggest competition of the year. It’s probably not ideal. They (the talks) always fall around this time.