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Published: 21:55 | 28/1/16

Schmidt does not expect exodus


Joe Schmidt hopes his players will "follow their hearts, not just their bank balance" by continuing their careers in Ireland.

The Ireland head coach was speaking after Keith Earls turned down a three-year contract at Saracens, just two days after informing the Irish Rugby Football Union that he intended to leave Munster.

The IRFU reportedly came back to the 28-year-old, who had not signed an agreement with Saracens, to offer an improved €300,000 deal.

Schmidt accepts that clubs in England and France can offer more lucrative contracts than the IRFU, but the New Zealander believes Irish players are motivated by more than just money.

"I talk to players on an opportunity basis, on a playing for Ireland, on a longevity of their career, because they will get better looked after in Ireland than most other places because they will get well managed in between their Ireland commitments and their provincial commitments," he said.

"Those are things I talk about with them.

“There are guys giving up good sums of money to stay where they are, to play for their country and play for their province. I think it’s one of the fantastic things that is still slightly amateur about rugby – that people still follow their hearts a little bit, not just their bank balance.”

However, Schmidt admits that the failure of Leinster, Munster and Ulster to advance into the Champions Cup quarter-finals this season may have a detrimental effect on the atmosphere surrounding Irish rugby.

"One of the real disadvantages of not having a qualifier – and I’m positive that we’ll have at least one, two or hopefully three qualifiers in the European Cup next year in that top eight – is that these players are competitive people, they want to win things," said Schmidt.

"I’m desperately keen for the provinces to be as competitive as they can be, because players come into camp more upbeat, it’s easier to keep players in a place where they feel they have a chance of winning things because there’s a feel-good factor when you’re a competitive person and a non-tangible factor that’s not necessarily money."

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