Leinster head coach Leo Cullen spoke to OTB Sports about how players will be affected by the contract situation ahead of the upcoming Heineken Champions Cup season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resultant financial situation of the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), a number of players have to wait to find out if they will be offered new contracts by their unions.
Included in the list of senior players whose contracts expire in the middle of 2021 are Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander and Keith Earls.
The IRFU has had to push back their deadline for the offering of contract extensions by a couple of months, so that they can ascertain how much money will be available to offer players.
In spite of all this, IRFU High Performance Director David Nucifora has said that they will not be rethinking their overseas selection policy.
With all of this contract uncertainty, it could be expected that players’ performances might take a hit.
Cullen, however, does not believe players will be affected on the pitch.
“That is the way it is every season,” Cullen said. “Just due to the nature of the contracting cycle, the guts of half your squad are out of contract every year.
“The way it becomes between the players and the club is that more often the players don’t want to sign for a longer term than a couple of years.
“It is rare enough that you get long-term contracts.”
While he acknowledged that this year it is slightly different, due to the delay in the deadline, Cullen does not believe it will have an effect.
“It hasn’t changed drastically,” Cullen said. “It is just maybe that things have been shifted by a couple of months.”
As with other off-the-field issues, Cullen believes that the best way to deal with the situation is to focus on what can be controlled.
“For players and coaches it is preparing and training the team,” Cullen said.
“From an individual point of view, doing your bits to get yourself in the best possible shape to perform at the weekend, and if you do those things well, values and things become a lot clearer.”
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