IRFU High Performance Director David Nucifora met up with Munster head coach Anthony Foley during the summer. One of the main topics of conversation was tying down the province’s star players that had a year left on their contracts.
The five players are Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, CJ Stander, James Cronin and Keith Earls.
That quintet are out of contract on June 1 next year and the province is keen to retain their collective services.
Addressing the press ahead of the now-postponed Champions Cup clash with Stade Francais, on Tuesday, Foley declared that the players’ fate now lay with Nucifora and the IRFU.
He told reporters, “That’s the nature of our business, unfortunately it’s not a monopoly. Players are entitled, when they are off contract, to look for employment elsewhere.”
Having lost four players – Paddy Butler, Sean Dougall, Donncha O’Callaghan and JJ Hanrahan – to French and English clubs in the past six months, Foley will hope the union to convince his top talents to sign up to new deals.
Zebo has already been linked with possible moves to Toulouse and Pau while Murray has spoken, in the past, about being interested in trying out the French Top 14.
Earls has stated, as part of an interview for The New Breed, that he would like to sample life in France for a couple of years. Aged 28, Earls may prefer another Munster contract before seeking a move abroad