The Irish Times newspaper is reporting that Munster Rugby’s captain Peter O’Mahony has rejected an extended offer from the IRFU and is in discussions with English and French clubs about a possible move.
The IRFU is reported to have offered the 28 year-old Cork man a new two-year deal to extend his contract with Irish rugby’s governing body until the completion of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Ireland international’s current IRFU contract expires in July 2018 with one unnamed French club believed to be willing to pay O’Mahony double the IRFU’s offer. It is thought that the English club interested is seeking a team captain.
O’Mahony has previously made no secret of his desire to stay with both Munster Rugby and Ireland, telling The Irish Times as late as last Saturday:
“Ideally I would like to [stay]. I like it around here, but they’ve got to come to the table as well. I want to play for Munster and Ireland, but it’s got to be fair as well.”
It is thought that O’Mahony and his advisers believe the IRFU’s flat annual salary of €400,000 is not enough for a player of his ability and importance to both province and country.
One trump card the IRFU has in negotiations is that O’Mahony would, in all likelihood, no longer be considered for the national team should he move abroad, something that his Munster team mate Simon Zebo found out shortly after his announcement of his proposed move to Racing in Paris.
What remains to be seen is if the Union will increase its basic annual salary for players in an effort to prevent an exodus of Ireland’s top stars to France and England. The fact that many Irish internationals are out of contract next summer, Rory Best, Iain Henderson and Rob Kearney amongst them, may see the IRFU on shakier contract negotiations ground if they concede to O’Mahony’s demand for an improved offer.