Ronan O’Gara has warned that the threat of more players leaving Irish provinces to join teams abroad and feels JJ Hanrahan's Munster exit should not have happened.
O’Gara said Hanrahan’s decision to leave Munster hurt, but admitted he understands why the utility back wanted to leave.
The 22-year-old Kerryman announced on Wednesday that he will join the English Premiership champions at the end of the season after failing to nail down a starting spot with his home province.
Former Munster out-half O’Gara, now coaching with Racing Metro, told RTÉ Sport: “Yeah, it hurts, it hurts because he’s such a good player.
“You know years ago, talk of people going, it was part of the tactic I suppose of getting better deals and staying at home but the game is changing and far away hills seem greener to some people.
"Believe me, Munster did everything and JJ appreciated everything they did, but in this case it’s a pure rugby decision"
“But now the threat is real. The Top 14 is a monster, there’s a lot of the best players in the world playing here. It appeals.
“Then the Premiership is a good league with probably four or five really strong clubs with a great culture in those clubs, so players that are frustrated have a better choice, a bigger choice.”
O’Gara added: “Nowadays, I think especially when you move away, you see that the game is professional, while at home it’s a passion and an obsession for you.”
He warned of the negative consequences of players Hanrahan's calibre leaving the Irish provinces, saying: "For a nominee for the world player of the year, under 20 - it shouldn't happen [that he should be leaving].
"These are the players that should be driving Munster. He's a local boy. He's everything that's good about Munster."
O'Gara insisted that Hanrahan's decision had been driven by rugby concerns rather than financial considerations.
“It’s tough for me to comment on it because I’m very much in the know about what’s gone on for the last few weeks, and I can tell you it’s nothing to do with money, it’s a pure rugby decision," he said.
“He feels at the minute that he [Anthony Foley] has placed his faith in Keatley and doesn’t see that changing in the six to 18-month period, so [Hanrahan's] vision is to surpass Meyler in the Northampton team and look good in a good team.
“It’s obviously a bit risky, from his point of view, but he’s backing himself and then hopefully in two years time, when he’s proven, and in his eyes when he’s pushing Johnny Sexton on the Irish team, he’d obviously look to Munster again.
“I think that’s it in a nutshell really. Believe me, Munster did everything and JJ appreciated everything they did, but in this case it’s a pure rugby decision, which, say what you want, but you’ve got to admire the balls of the young fella.”
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