Donnacha Ryan weighs up option of move abroad

Conor Murray cited for foul play while Paul O’Connell and Keith Earls seem doubtful for Samoa game

Donnacha Ryan: The Munster lock’s contract expires at the end of the season.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Donnacha Ryan: The Munster lock’s contract expires at the end of the season. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho


Donnacha Ryan was present at Perpignan’s Top 14 31-20 win at home to Bordeaux/Begles on Saturday as part of a reconnaissance mission to the Catalan club, who are keen on acquiring the player. The 29-year-old Munster and Irish lock, sidelined for 10 weeks with a knee injury, is out of contract at the end of the season and is weighing up his options.

There have also been exploratory inquiries from Clermont, and there is liable to be interest from England too, while Munster and Ireland are also keen to retain Ryan. However, Perpignan’s interest is the strongest from abroad at this juncture.

The likelihood is that if Perpignan come up with an offer it will exceed anything the IRFU can put on the table. Furthermore, with the proposed amendment to the tax rebate scheme whereby players will not have to finish their careers in Ireland to reclaim 40 per cent of tax paid over the 10 most remunerative years of their careers, Ryan fits the age profile of a player who henceforth might find a move abroad more attractive. But countering this will be his undoubted sense of loyalty to Munster.

Meanwhile Conor Murray and his Fijian counterpart, Niko Matawalu, have been cited in the fallout from Munster’s 13-6 win in a fractious encounter at Scotstoun on Friday night, the former for alleged foul play and the latter for allegedly biting Donncha O’Callaghan.

‘Dangerous foul play’
O’Callaghan claimed he had been bitten and showed referee Ian Davies marks on his forearm in the final throes of the game. Afterwards, Glasgow swiftly posted a statement on their website in which they claimed “a dangerous act of foul play was committed by a Munster player against Niko Matawalu” and had brought this to the attention of

citing commissioner Rob Flockhart of Scotland.

The incident happened in the second half when Murray touched down in the Munster in-goal area and Matawalu jumped on him and, by rights, should have been penalised. Murray pushed his hand at Matawalu and brushed the Fijian on the face. Matawalu resumed play without any need for attention. But Munster are annoyed by the apparent tit-for-tat fallout and are confident Murray will cleared of foul play at his disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.

Paul O’Connell, was withdrawn from the game before kick-off with a calf strain. As with Keith Earls, who injured his knee in the last moments of Wednesday’s training session, indications are they will be fit in a week to 10 days’ time, making them genuine concerns for Ireland’s first match in next month’s Guinness Series against Samoa on Saturday week.

There appears to be better news concerning Rory Best, who rolled his ankle in Ulster’s win over Cardiff on Friday but is expected to train today, and the Leinster contingent. Seán O’Brien was withdrawn as a precautionary measure before the kick-off to their 16-13 win over Connacht at the RDS on Saturday night with an ankle injury but coach Matt O’Connor said: “If we needed him to play, he would have played.”

Although Cian Healy’s knee injury remains a concern, Brian O’Driscoll, sidelined since his sole appearance of the season against Cardiff four weeks ago with a torn calf, and Mike Ross, strained hamstring against the Ospreys a week later, will be fit for the Samoan game.

Key players to return
“They’ll certainly come into the equation for Joe and the Ireland squad when they get together and there will be no issues with them, unless they have a relapse, in relation to them playing against Samoa,” said O’Connor. Neither is likely to feature for Leinster away to the Dragons this Friday.

O’Driscoll’s testimonial is in Dublin that night and O’Connor is resigned to being without his 17 Irish squad members.

In the aftermath of a win sealed by a 78th minute penalty try after Connacht had been reduced to 13 men, O’Connor said: “You couldn’t say we got out of jail, they didn’t play any rugby. So, it would have been an injustice to lose.”

Connacht coach Pat Lam, whose injury ravaged squad host Glasgow next Saturday, said: “We were the only team that scored a try . . . I thought we were the one team that had a big chance to win it.”