Rob Penney concedes defeat in transfer market

Munster coach on lookout for new centre following news Casey Laulala is leaving

Munster head coach Rob Penney (right) has admitted Munster have budgetary constraints to consider when sourcing a replacement for Casey Laulala..

Munster head coach Rob Penney (right) has admitted Munster have budgetary constraints to consider when sourcing a replacement for Casey Laulala..

 



Munster coach Rob Penney has conceded defeat to the French and English clubs in the transfer market, saying it is not possible for Munster to compete with the hefty wages on offer abroad.

Penney is on the lookout for a new centre following the confirmation that Casey Laulala is on his way out of the club this summer, but he admitted Munster have budgetary constraints to consider when sourcing his replacement.

“We are not going to be able to [match French wages], simple answer. Well we’d love [a good centre] but they are not easy to find. If you go through the list, there is some challenges in finding one and there is an affordability issue as well.

“But that’s the challenge that we have to make when we find the right person and get into negotiations,” he said.

The coach was boosted by news that Simon Zebo will be ready to return in time to face provincial rivals Ulster in their first game of the New Year, but said he expects to be without Keith Earls and Ian Keatley because of injury this weekend, while Paul O’Connell and captain Peter O’Mahony will miss out because of IRFU player welfare protocols.

‘Christmas time’
“Zeebs, hopefully, will be back around Christmas time. We’re looking possibly at Ulster and that’s if everything goes to plan.

“He’s up and doing a little bit of running on a gravity treadmill and so he is making good progress to that end. But he obviously hasn’t put the boots on yet or run around on grass,” said Penney.

“Ian went in [to Perpignan] with a corked thigh and has an ongoing hip problem which was just holding him back. As we said about a month ago, he had some time away from the game to get that right and it’s just a little bit aggravated again so he may not be around the scene again this weekend.”

New signing Gerhard van den Heever is likely to make his return following an arm injury, while Duncan Casey could be in line for a first Munster start, as Penney revealed he expects Damien Varley to get a call up to the Ireland squad.

“Yeah Varls has had a lot of game time and he is the senior hooker obviously. He is probably in the pecking order around Ireland at the moment with the injuries that are around the place, so he probably important at another level,” said Penney.