It has been confirmed that one of Irish rugby’s top talents, Robbie Henshaw has swapped the green of Connacht, for the blue of Leinster.
The expansion and growth of Connacht over the last few seasons has been astronomical. Under the guidance of Pat Lam, influential players such as John Muldoon, Kieron Marmion and Tiernan O’Halloran have managed to propel Connacht from the lower remits of the Pro 12 to title contenders.
Henshaw’s departure from the club, along with Rodney Ah You, diminishes the clubs pedigree substantially. Connacht will need to have players at the top level to attract big names and compete actively at the top level - which they are more than capable of doing.
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Henshaw will have no problem fitting into the Leinster side, after establishing himself as one of Europe’s top centres. However, will Henshaw’s move limit the game time of other young centres, most notably Garry Ringrose?
Leinster will be eager to hold onto their young protégé but the lack of game time may force him out the door.
This may be the case for players such as Ian Madigan, who may leave Leinster on the basis that he simply doesn’t get enough game time. Recently Andrew Conway moved to Munster for similar reasons.
Dispersing players equally amongst the four provinces shouldn’t be an issue, as it is beneficial for all parties involved, as well as benefitting Irish Rugby as a whole. It’s of the utmost importance that emerging Irish talent don't just sit on the sideline, which effectively would stunt their growth.
Connacht are effectively a feeder club for the rest of the Irish provinces, grooming young players, only for them to be snapped up by the stronger teams.
Undoubtedly, both Leinster and Henshaw will be delighted with the switch. But overall, for Irish Rugby, Henshaw maybe would have been better off staying at Connacht.