Foreign legion: How overseas moves affected Ireland careers

Some Ireland players’ careers stalled, for others their international careers survived

Players whose Ireland careers stalled

Trevor Brennan - The Leinster back-rower won 13 caps between 1998 and 2002 but after he left Leinster for Stade Toulouse, the then Irish head coach Eddie O'Sullivan never picked him again, even though Brennan played in three consecutive European Cup finals, winning two (against Perpingnan at Lansdowne Road in 2003 and against Stade Français at Murrayfield in 2005) and losing one.

Ian Madigan -  Was initially omitted from the Irish squad to tour South Africa in 2016 on foot of his impending move to Bordeaux, but was then called up after Johnny Sexton was ruled out with a shoulder injury. He won the last of his 30 caps as a replacement in the third test. After a difficult season with Bordeaux, has relocated to Bristol in the English Championship.

Marty Moore - An ever-present off the bench in the back to back Six Nations successes of 2014 and 2015, Moore has not been named in an Irish squad since announcing his decision to join Wasps in January 2016. Now in his second season with the Coventrybased club.


Donnacha Ryan - The Munster lock, left, had a remarkable resurgence in fitness and form last season, starting both November tests against the All Blacks and all but one of the Six Nations games, but after revealing his intention to join Racing, has not added to his 47th and last cap in the win over England last March. Currently injured and sidelined for three months.

Players whose Ireland careers survived

Geordan Murphy - The Kildare native and product of Newbridge College was snapped up just after his 19th birthday by Bob Dwyer at Leicester in 1997. Different times, and so despite spending his entire career with the Tigers, he won 72 caps for Ireland.

Tommy Bowe - His international career continued without interruption during his four-year stay at the Ospreys, from 2008 to 2012, when he remained a regular in the team, accumulating 34 of his 69 caps and 19 of his 30 tries, taking in the 2009 Grand Slam and 2011 World Cup.

Johnny Sexton - An exception was made for an exceptional player when Sexton, left, moved to Racing in 2013, as he won 15 of his 66 caps during his two-year sojourn to Paris. The decision bore fruit when Sexton was the leading points' scorer and joint leading try scorer in Ireland's 2014 Six Nations title-winning campaign, and he played in all bar the opener against Italy when Ireland retained the title in 2015. He returned to Leinster before the 2015 World Cup.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times