By Brendan Cole
Pat Lam has said that there are no plans for Robbie Henshaw to leave Connacht before the end of his recently signed deal with the province.
The 20-year-old has already been capped three times by Ireland and has put in a series of eye-catching performances in recent weeks, prompting speculation that he could be moved to another province as a centrally contracted player.
In an interview with Shannonside FM last week, IRFU president Pat Fitzgerald stated that Henshaw would have to go to another province if head coach Joe Schmidt decided that he should.
Fitzgerald said: “That’s a difficult one, I don’t have the answer. All I can say is that if the national coach feels that Robbie Henshaw would be better playing in another province, then the green team I’m afraid has to come first.”
Connacht, who announced that they had signed centre Bundee Aki from New Zealand on Saturday, released a statement including Lam’s views on Henshaw yesterday.
Lam said: “There has been a lot of talk in the last week about the possibility of Robbie leaving Connacht for another Irish province.
"Robbie signed a new deal this season that says he will be playing at the Sportsground until 2016 at least" - Pat Lam
"Robbie signed a new deal this season that says he will be playing at the Sportsground until 2016 at least.
"He showed that he is happy here playing with his home province. There are no plans for him to move before then.”
Commenting on the IRFU’s overall attitude to Connacht, Lam added: “The IRFU have been very supportive of Connacht and what we are trying to achieve here.
"I have a very good relationship with Joe (Schmidt) and there are good lines of communication between us.
"We talk regularly on games and players and he is especially supportive of the Connacht rugby programme going forward.
“We look forward to confirming some more player signings in the coming weeks for the 2014/15 season.”