Try as hard as they might, world-class rugby players prefer to do their talking on the pitch rather than seek the limelight in the media — unless contract renewal time has come round again.
That’s when their agents suddenly become amenable to journalists and drop some hints here and there that their clients aren’t happy with the money on offer and might be inclined to seek pastures new.
And so it is the talks between IRFU chiefs and Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander are making front page news in recent days.
Their injured Munster colleague Jaco Taute is no stranger to this aspect of the professional game and has an educated reading of what is going on.
“I have a degree in business management,” the South African revealed. “I think it’s not that easy, saying just pay them what they want and comparing it to the French League where there’s a lot more money. There are a lot more pros and cons that need to be looked at. It’s impossible to compete with the money that’s in the French League and even in the Aviva Premiership.
“I know for a fact that the IRFU and Munster will do their best to keep those two players.
“It’s trying to negotiate the money that is the hard part in this professional environment.
“CJ loves Munster and it shows in the way he plays. Peter loves Munster. He grew up here. He’s the club captain. At the end of the day, if it comes down to the individual choices, where they are individually in their careers, family choices, future choices. I’m positive they’ll stay. They love Munster. Munster loves them. They’re two quality players I love playing with and two key players for us.
“Of course, they would want to win a trophy. We all want to do that for Munster.”
Johann van Graan was a Springbok coach when Taute played three times for South Africa in 2012. Jaco is full of admiration for Munster’s new boss, the third since he aligned with the province, and insists the change won’t affect the team’s performances.
“We have shown that we can adapt to any situation,” he insisted. “We have instilled a culture that the team comes first and we try not to put individuals on a pedestal. This a bumper part of the season and that’s what the team will be focused on.
“Johann has been with very successful teams and I’m excited about that as well. There’s no bigger challenge than coaching Munster. He’s got his goals set. This team and these individuals adapt quickly. There has been a lot of turbulence and we haven’t strayed from the path at all. The team has its goals set of going the next step and that’s winning trophies instead of competing for them in semi-finals and finals. It’s time to kick on.”
Taute is the type of forthright and honest individual who was never going to have any difficulty adapting to the Munster psyche.
“I think it’s utterly disrespectful not to respect their culture and what they stand for,” he asserted. “As an outsider, you’re an individual but you must always remember that you’re going to someone else’s house so you learn about their cultures and traditions and show you respect that. And the only way you can do that in the professional environment is that people see it in the 80 minutes on the field.
“Myself and CJ and all the other foreigners who come here, we want to come here and we want to make a difference, not individually but in the culture here and support where we can. At the end of the day, the sport will go on, the jersey will go on. This is about adding to the place and making it better because it was here long before we came and will be here long after we have left. As a player, your career will end but you want to help the jersey to go on to greatness. I like to see myself as a team man, that’s when you perform when you put the team first, I love it when the team does well.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved