Three players who could replace Munster's Malakai Fekitoa 3 months ago

Three players who could replace Munster's Malakai Fekitoa

Who can replace the Munster centre?

Munster Rugby this week announced that last summer's star signing, Malakai Fekitoa, is set to depart the province at the end of the season.


The departure of the former All Black, who has made 11 appearances since joining from Premiership side Wasps, comes as somewhat of a surprise given he is only half a season into a two year deal.

Having recovered from an early season blip under new head coach Graham Rowntree, the southern province have managed to get back on track, winning five of their last six league games and securing a place in the Champions Cup knock out rounds.

Rowntree and his staff will be hoping that the news of Fekitoa's exit doesn't derail this recent progress, as they look to continue to climb the URC table in which they currently sit sixth.


Given the dearth of centre options available at the province, and the sizeable amount of freed up wages which Fekitoa's departure will bring, Munster will surely look to strengthen their midfield options ahead of next season.

Here are three possible options for Graham Rowntree's side:

Bundee Aki 16 July 2022; Bundee Aki of Ireland celebrates with the trophy after his side's victory in the Steinlager Series match between the New Zealand and Ireland at Sky Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

1. Bundee Aki

The inclusion of the Connacht centre in this list may come as somewhat of a surprise, but Aki and Munster could be a match made in heaven. The 32-year-old Auckland native has become a stalwart for the western province, amassing over 120 appearances in nine years at the Galway Sportsgrounds.

However, having started just four games all season for Andy Friend's side, Aki appears to have fallen behind the now go-to centre pairing of Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell. Moreover, given Aki's central IRFU contract, the union will be keen to get value for money from the 43-cap veteran.

With his imposing physical presence and wealth of top-level experience, Aki could be the perfect foil at 12 outside either Joey Carbery or Jack Crowley next season.


2. Jamie Osborne

The young Leinster centre is another Irish option to which Munster could turn. A fine season at club level, including a man-of-the-match display away to Gloucester in the Champions Cup, has seen the Naas man earn a first Irish call-up to this month's Six Nations squad.

Despite making ten appearances so far this season, Osborne still has the likes of Irish duo Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose ahead of him, with other competition for minutes coming from former All Black Charlie Ngatai. Whilst Munster are not on the level of Leo Cullen's Leinster side at present, a move down south could afford Osborne the necessary game time needed to establish himself as a viable midfield option for Andy Farrell at Test level.

A superb distributor with an excellent kicking and passing game, Osborne possess all the necessary skills to spark an often misfiring Munster backline into life.


3. David Havili

In a similar vein to Fekitoa, the signing of Havili would be seen as a serious coup for Munster. Still just 28, the Super Rugby winning centre has been in imperious form for the past two seasons as a mainstay in the Crusaders six-in-a-row title winning side.

The Nelson-born centre has also won 25 All Blacks caps, and with his contract up after this autumn's Rugby World Cup, there is every chance that Havili could join the habitual post World Cup exodus of players from the Southern Hemisphere.

Having played outside the likes of Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo'unga, Havili could bring a sense of composure and assuredness to Munster backline, with his ability to act as a second playmaker extremely enticing to a side looking to capitalise on their mercurial half-back pairing of Craig Casey and Jack Crowley.