JJ Hanrahan hints at possible return to Munster in future

Decision on Northampton Saints move followed frustration with role at Thomond Park

JJ Hanrahan says a lack of time in the Munster

No 10 shirt was one of the reasons he has decided to leave his home province, but he has left the door ajar for a possible return in the future.

Hanrahan (22) will join Northampton Saints this summer in what he said was a “completely” rugby-driven move, but admitted he became a little frustrated waiting for his chance at Munster.

He said the move to the English Premiership came about because he hoped to develop as a player, especially as an outhalf. “There is no secret to know that my favourite position to play, where I think I can add most of my game, is at 10. It’s where I think, going forward in my career, where I can add most value to myself and to other teams.

“It’s a factor; it’s one of many. I train constantly as a 10, I think as a 10, I drive play as a 10. It’s something, going forward, that I think I can add most. That’s where my ability comes out, that’s where I could be best used.”

According to Hanrahan, the offer of a contract from Northampton only materialised in the past eight weeks. It took him four weeks to make his decision to move, one that he arrived at despite Munster putting a generous three-year contract on the table.

“Like everything, you’re to-ing and fro-ing in your head,” he said. “You have a decision to make, but up to the last minute you’re still kind of going: ‘Is this the right thing?’

“There’s still something gnawing at you, but you have to back your own decision, back yourself, and believe that you have it in yourself, and make that call.

“I took advice from a close group of friends, family, some senior players. At the start, I got their opinion on it. Basically to see am I absolutely crazy here, is my thinking right.

Head to head

Hanrahan will go head to head with current Saints outhalf

Stephen Myler

for the starting No 10 shirt next season. Myler also recently signed a new long-term deal, but Hanrahan said he did not ask for any assurance or guaranteed game time. Instead, he wants to improve as a player and work his way up the international pecking order.

“The way I see it is that you have to be playing to be in the reckoning for Ireland, and that’s the main thing,” he said.

"Out of sight, out of mind it may be, but there are also numerous players who went away, learned their trade and then came back. The Eoin Reddans, players like him who went away, came back and are now international players. Tommy Bowe did it as well . . .Like I said, it's probably more of a see you soon rather than goodbye for good, you know."

Foley’s woes

Meanwhile, Munster coach Anthony Foley’s woes were added to when powerful backrow CJ Stander was ruled out of action for four to six weeks because of an ankle injury.

He also said that Conor Murray is a doubt for Sunday's Champions Cup dead rubber against Sale because of a disc problem in his neck, while Simon Zebo will continue to be assessed this week to see if his ankle injury improves.

Foley also moved to deny rumours that Munster cannot afford to pay for any player they want in the future.

“There’s no restriction on our behalf,” Foley said. “In terms of marquee signings . . . I swear to you money isn’t an issue – it’s getting the player. A lot of the players we’ve approached won’t leave their country. That’s nothing to do with money.”

Munster also confirmed the return to Ireland of international scrumhalf Tomás O'Leary, who is signed to play at Thomond Park next season. Andrew Conway and Dave O'Callaghan have signed one-year contract extensions, which will keep them at the club until at least June 2016.

Short-term signing Eusebio Guinazu will now remain until the end of the season, providing extra cover in the front row. Development players Johnny Holland and Darren Sweetnam have also signed new deals.