There could be more bad news on the cards for the Irish provinces, with a report this morning suggesting that Munster’s Keith Earls is close to a move to join English side Saracens.
The news follows yesterday's announcement that tighthead prop Marty Moore will leave Leinster at the end of the season to join Wasps. In December Ian Madigan confirmed that he will also leave to join Bordeaux Bègles in the French Top 14.
Munster had been hopeful of retaining the services of Earls, but the Irish Independent have reported this morning that the 28-year-old is close to a move to the Aviva Premiership side.
A move by Earls, in combination with Moore and Madigan, would test the tendency of the IRFU not to select Irish players who are playing abroad for international duty.
So far the main exception to that has been fly-half Jonathan Sexton, who spent two seasons with Racing Metro and kept his green jersey throughout.
Earls has 46 Ireland caps and is seen as an important member of Joe Schmidt’s squad. He started all five Ireland games in the 2014 World Cup, and became Ireland’s highest World Cup try-scorer in the process. Last week he was named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad.
Earls has been with Munster for his entire career, amassing 121 caps since his senior debut in 2007.
News of the possible move has caused shock and consternation among Munster and Ireland fans.
Now Munster's Keith Earls heading to Saracens? Not the news Irish rugby fans want to be waking up to.— Today FM Sport (@todayfmsport) January 26, 2016