Leinster Explain Why They Were Unable To Retain Sean O’Brien
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Leinster have revealed Sean O’Brien’s decision to leave the province in favour of a move to London Irish was “almost out of their hands” with the IRFU deciding against offering the openside another central contract.
O’Brien is one of the highest paid players in Ireland, on a reported €550k-a-season, but his horrific injury record and the fact that he turns 32 this week meant Irish Rugby were unwilling to reinvest in the back-row forward.
And with London Irish stepping in to offer him a three-year deal said to be worth £450k-a-season, Leinster simply couldn’t compete financially.
“It was almost out of Leinster’s hands as soon as that national contract wasn’t offered and Seánie got such a fantastic offer from England,” said senior coach Stuart Lancaster.
“It’s part of the nature of the game, unfortunately. He’s going to coaches he knows well, obviously, they’re trying to build themselves back into a Premiership.”
“It’s a fantastic signing for London Irish I must say, and a huge blow for us. It wasn’t that long ago, with the Lions, he showed how good he was against the best team in the world. He’s still got it in him.”
Leinster will miss O’Brien when he leaves. But when you’ve still got guys like Dan Leavy, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan and Rhys Ruddock still on your books – it’s not all that bad.