Connacht chasing James Cronin after Munster released him

Province’s need to sign is acute given Denis Buckley’s unfortunate ACL injury

James Cronin has played 142 games for Munster, including 13 starts this season, more than the other four loose-heads in the squad combined. File photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

James Cronin has played 142 games for Munster, including 13 starts this season, more than the other four loose-heads in the squad combined. File photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Connacht are endeavouring to sign James Cronin after Munster’s decision to release the three-times capped 30-year-old loose-head at the end of this month, although in response Munster have seemingly said they would be keen to match any offer from their provincial neighbours.

Connacht’s need to sign is acute given the unfortunate ACL injury which Denis Buckley suffered in the opening minutes of his 200th appearance for the province against Benetton less than a fortnight ago and which is likely to sideline him until well into next year.

Three weeks ago Munster confirmed that they were releasing Cronin. They wanted to keep him but with budget cuts also contributing to compulsory redundancies elsewhere in the organisation, couldn’t afford to do so.

Clearly though, they are not keen to see him play for a rival Irish province and in light of Connacht’s interest will explore the possibility of finding the funds to re-sign him. It is also believed that Ulster might look at a short-term deal given Jack McGrath’s recuperation from a hip operation will see him sidelined until at least November.

Staying in Ireland, one imagines most likely with Connacht at this stage, would ensure Cronin stays in the frame for international recognition.

However, there is also significant interest from at least a couple of clubs in the Top 14, which might also more accurately reflect Cronin’s value as a strong scrummaging, frontline prop who at 30 years of age should be entering his prime.

He has played 142 games for Munster, including 13 starts this season, more than the other four loose-heads in the squad combined, in what has probably been his best campaign to date. Cronin started the Pro14 final against Leinster, the Champions Cup win over Harlequins and was on the bench against Toulouse.

It comes as little surprise that he will not be short of offers.

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