It’ll be interesting to see what the IRFU make of the comments last night of Racing boss Jacky Lorenzetti on the prospect of Jonny Sexton coming to Paris next season.
Lorenzetti is quoted on Rugby 365 (http://bit.ly/WeQ69R) to the effect that the Irish boys not only like their own part of the world, but that they like to use his part of the world to make their own part of the world look a little more comfy. So when it comes time to renegotiate the contract with the IRFU, you lob in a French club to the mix and wait for the union to glam up the deal.
He adds that the chances of Sexton coming to France are “minimal.”
Well, maybe not so small that they have fallen off the page altogether. So either Jacky is pouring cold water on Sexton because he thinks the Ireland outhalf is using him to big up his IRFU salary, or, more likely, he’s opening the door to the union to stick to their guns, and for the player to skip town.
Currently those guns haven’t packed too much ammo, at least not enough to blow Sexton off his stool or he would have signed before any of this got into the public domain. Their contract policy these days is make you an offer you can refuse, wait for you to come back with your version of what’s fair, and then come back with their final offer. You either take that final offer pronto or watch it drop in value until your tail is so far between your legs that you’re whimpering to stop the clock.
Consider the following: can Lorenzetti afford the circa €750k a year to bring Sexton to Paris? Yes.
Would it propel their ambitions, both domestic and European, to have in their side a current, top of the range 10, instead of a fading star? Yes.
Is Racing an attractive proposition? Yes, between their increasingly strong squad and highly rated coaching partnership for next season, of Laurent Labit and Laurent Travers, they have every reason to be confident.
Moreover, Sexton is coming into their orbit at just the right time. He has three Heineken Cup medals in his pocket with Leinster and the chances of adding to that haul anytime soon are receding.
Joe Schmidt, with whom he has a great relationship, will be gone in 16 months, almost certainly back to New Zealand to get on the merry go round that will stop at some point with a place on the All Black roster – perhaps with Vern Cotter, who will be out of Clermont next year.
Indeed the current Leinster team will break up over the same period, so staying put – while attractive to a fella who loves the set-up – might not be such a lure.
It’s unlikely that he’s wild about the fact that all of this is already in the public domain, but genuinely it seems to have come from France rather than the standard and tedious system of agent-leaked info.
All of which suits Jacky Lorenzetti. His dismissal of the Sexton story may do the trick, and encourage the union to play hardball. In which case the player needs to pack his bags. It might be tearing the backside out of it if he expected the union to throw €750k at him, but it would be entirely reasonable for him to expect to be on the top scale in Ireland, whatever that is.
If this pans out with him accepting less than top whack, to stay at home, we will be getting a lesser player. And Jacky Lorenzetti will have to look elsewhere to further his ambitions.