Former Munster rugby star Donnacha Ryan has said that his decision to leave Munster was not an easy one, but was the right move for him.
The 34-year old lock joined Ger Gilroy in studio to discuss his recent move to France and all things Irish rugby related, and he admitted that money that has tempted other internationals to make the switch was not the main motivation for his move away, noting that it was probably the last chance he had to leave Munster when it was his decision to do so.
"In the end from a contract point of view there was no difference at all. There was no difference between staying and going".
"It's going to come down to a stage where you are going to have to leave, you are going to finish, you are going to leave. Whereas, how hard would I find that leaving as well if it was out of my hands. I suppose I said I need to prepare for that as well, and that's probably the reason why. Look, it does get difficult for players when they do get older. There are supporters up in the stands thinking they should still be playing. My dad still hasn't retired from county hurling and he's 70...I probably shouldn't be saying that. But you never feel that you have retired or you're finished. Having gone it probably just highlights the fact even more how much I loved my time there".
When asked whether he discussed the move and his international future with Ireland manager Joe Schmidt, as Irish players plying their trade outside of the country are not eligible for selection, Ryan said there was no explicit conversation between the two and noted the need to move on and blood the next generation of players.
"To be honest I kind of more looked at my own situation currently and then said, 'I've to look at what's best for myself' I suppose, that's it in a nutshell. I'd loved to have kept going for Ireland, but at the end of the day they've got to keep building for the World Cup as well. They're doing the maths, 'will he make it or won't he?' I'm sure. And that's fair enough, it's hard to take as a player because we're all competitive animals really".
"I obviously would have loved to stay in Munster. Jesus, you'd love to stay forever and keep playing forever, but it'd be quite difficult to broach that when it comes to the stage where that decision is not there for you, or when you kind of see yourself being kind of pushed to the side. It is important for Munster to bring on the younger generation, and Irish guys, because another player is going to come on. For instance James Ryan at the weekend, they just roll on and that's the way it goes, and it's great because that's the evolution, someone has to come in there and pick up the mantle".
Despite his age, Ryan believes he has plenty of gas left in the tank, noting the improvement players in his position often go through later in their careers, and was critical of the scepticism many people have about older players.
"When you talk about age, I think age is a completely irrelevant thing. If you were to put two GPS scores in front of you without the age there you'd pick the guy who's got the most mileage or has got the highest speed. When you put the age in as a factor it's a lot different. Whereas nowadays we have that technology as well, so I don't know, I think second rows when they've got the miles on the clock the durability is there a bit more".