The Real Reason JJ Hanrahan Is Leaving Munster Might Surprise Some People

Best of luck.

When it was announced last month that Munster outhalf JJ Hanrahan would be moving to French giants Clermont next season – the news came as a bit of a shock to most people.

Hanrahan has been a key figure at Munster since returning for a second stint with his home province back in 2017 having initially left in 2015 to take up a two-year contract with Premiership side Northampton Saints.

But the emergence of Ben Healy at the province and the return of Joey Carbery to full fitness has seen his game time reduced in recent weeks. So when the Clermont deal was announced many believed Hanrahan decided to leave himself in search of perhaps some more guaranteed minutes.

That, however, isn’t the case – it turns out Hanrahan wasn’t offered a new deal at Munster and his hand was forced. Naturally, this came as a bit of a surprise to the 28-year-old, as has to us and probably a lot of other people.

“It will be incredibly tough to say goodbye to lads,” Hanrahan told Radio Kerry’s Terrace Talk this week.

“When I found out the news of my situation at Munster, it was difficult to hear – something that I wasn’t expecting. At the same time, I understand that it’s a professional sport and these things can happen. It will be tough. You’re leaving family and friends behind, leaving your home, what you know about.

“Once I found out from Munster that I wasn’t going to get a contract there, I just had to go to the market and see where I was going to go next. It’s Munster or nothing for me in Ireland. I couldn’t see myself wearing a different jersey in Ireland.

But Hanrahan is exciting for the challenge that lies ahead with Clermont.

“I’m definitely more of an optimist than a pessimist. There’s a great challenge ahead. I have a bit of work on my hands to pick up a new language,” he added.

“I know plenty of lads who’ve played in the Top 14 and everyone says it’s an incredible experience. French people are a lot more laid back than potentially what Irish people are. I’ve seen that in a few of the interactions I’ve had with them already.

“Sometimes it can be a bit of a fishbowl in Limerick or Munster. You go over there and it’s a whole new world to experience.”

Given Healy’s age and Carbery’s injury record, you’d imagine retaining Hanrahan would have been a priority. Good tens are few and far between these days and Hanrahan is certainly a very good ten – hence why he’s been snapped up by a club like Clermont.

Will Munster regret letting him go? Only time will tell.