Ex-Ireland international on challenges of brining marquee players from abroad to Munster

John Kelly discusses the processes on the Munster Rugby podcast

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Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Munster were able to keep hold of some of their homegrown stars this month as Keith Earls, Simon Zebo and Conor Murray stayed on and signed new deals. 

But as with all provinces, Munster will always be on the lookout for "marquee players" who might be able to boost their squad.

John Kelly, the Chairman of the province's Professional Game Board and an ex-Munster and Ireland star spoke about the process and restrictions on Munster Rugby's podcast.

"You have restrictions on your N.I.Qs - Non-Irish-Qualified players. We can sign four N.I.Qs plus one, with the plus one being a project player - the likes of CJ Stander who qualified as an Irish player after three years," he says.

"The IRFU have an input in the project player, but they also have an input in the other four N.I.Qs. For example, if you look across the provinces, you have Ruan Pienaar in Ulster, that means we and the other provinces cannot sign a non-Irish-qualified 9. There is a restriction on you right away and we know we have to go after Irish players for the 9 spot, or a project player who could become an Irish player."

"There's a perception out there that we can just go and sign a player, no matter where he's from or the position he plays. That is not the case," he added.