Joe Schmidt On Donnacha Ryan’s Ireland Future & His Contract Talks
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt has not closed the door on Donnacha Ryan despite his move to France.
The towering lock has played his last game for Munster ahead of his move to French side Racing 92, and was not included in Schmidt’s touring squad for their summer Tests against USA and Japan.
Reports suggest Ryan was not offered a central IRFU contract, forcing him to leave Munster. Schmidt however says he is happy the IRFU did all they could to retain the Tipperary man, suggesting the deal they put on the table was “wasn’t far off’ matching what the Parisian side will be paying him, which believed to be in excess of €300,000 a season.
Donnacha has been at a World Cup, he’s done most things in the game, he’s won Six Nations Championships, you know, he thoroughly enjoyed November and the experience that he had there,” Schmidt said in Carton House yesterday.
So he felt that there was an opportunity to experience something a little bit different before he finished his career and broaden his experience a little bit, in case he wanted to extend his rugby career in a coaching role or mentoring role.
“So I understand that, and he also understands our stance.”
Schmidt maintains he was offered a contract that wasn’t ‘far off his old one’ and is happy he made every effort to retain Ryan.
“He was definitely offered a contract,” Schmidt said,
“I don’t think it was far off his old one. I don’t know the numbers to be honest, but I think people definitely worked hard to keep him. I know the phone calls I made and also the discussions I had.
“Also, I have huge respect for him. As I said he’s done most things in the game, and he has, I think, a valid reason for doing what he’s doing and he made a choice.”
As for his future with Ireland, Schmidt says there is a chance he will be called up for the November internationals, but wanted to focus on bringing up the younger lads this month.
“The door is never closed. And it’s not closed on any other player who is playing externally, but it becomes a very difficult calculation.
“The other thing with Donnacha is he’s 33, he will be 35 by the time the World Cup comes about. I know age is just a number and it’s not the most important number; the number is how many line-outs you win clean or how many rucks you hit well or effective tackles you make.
“But I do think that if we were ever going to have a look at these young guys (it’s now). We play South Africa, Fiji and Argentina (in November), if we need the kind of grit, strength and experience that Donnacha brings then that would probably be a place that we may involve him again. But on this particular tour we think it’s a real opportunity for young guys.”
“I have a huge amount of respect for him and you make your best pitch. But when he explains to you his reasoning… I don’t know if you’ve spent too much time talking to him, but he’s a very clever man and he knows his own mind.
You present your argument, he presents his and you present another argument, just to try… and, in the end, I think there’s personal reasons and some professional reasons, and some broadening opportunity that has been part of it.
“I don’t think it’s a massive financial difference. There’s always going to be a financial difference but, for me, I’d rather be excited talking about the guys we have got now.”