Connacht insist contract negotiations "ongoing" for Munster target Ultan Dillane 3 years ago

Connacht insist contract negotiations "ongoing" for Munster target Ultan Dillane

We first heard rumblings of Ultan Dillane and a prospective move to Munster last season. Those rumblings are not going away.

It is hard not to compare Dillane to Paul O'Connell given their all-action size of play, position and their rapid provincial and international progressions. The fact that they both worked in Munster pubs while learning their rugby trade - O'Connell a bouncer, Dillane serving drinks - only adds to the myth.

Given that Dillane was raised in Kerry and looks set for a long and bruising career at the top level, there have been inevitable talk of a switch from Connacht to Munster. Robbie Henshaw's move to Leinster only added contextual weight to the rumours.

SportsJOE understands that Dillane's representatives have explored the option of a Munster move while also negotiating with Connacht about a new deal. His current contract expires in June 2017.

Tommy O'Donnell, Niall Scannell and Simon Zebo tackle Ultan Dillane 16/4/2016

The 22-year-old, who has five Ireland caps to his name, batted back Munster enquiries last season by saying he was purely focused on establishing himself in the Connacht team. He has certainly done that now - helping them to a Guinness PRO12 title - and there is increased interest from the southern province.

A Connacht spokesperson told us that contracts 'talks are ongoing' with Dillane and there will be no further updates until they conclude.

At this morning's Champions Cup launch, Connacht head coach Pat Lam addressed the issue of teams trying to recruit players and coaches from the champions' set-up. He said:

"That's a compliment. To me, that's a total compliment. 

"It happens in professional rugby. If I was coaching a different club, the same thing would happen. It is what it is.

"The more you perform and play well, of course you are in the sop window. We're no different. Racing 92 came and took Johnny Sexton out of Leinster. Players are always going to be targeted.

"It's more a compliment that we have staff and players that are attractive to other clubs, and countries. That's a good sign."

Lam insisted that he is still striving to put in place a structure of higher standards and a culture of togetherness. It is all being done, he says, Connacht can prosper when he and many of the current crop eventually move on.

For Connacht fans, they would dearly love to hang onto Lam and Dillane a while longer.

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