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IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora says they have no plans to change their selection policies, if high-profile players depart the provincial setup next season.

With contract negotiations currently on hold until after Christmas, it leaves several key international players available to negotiate with clubs abroad.

Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, CJ Stander and Keith Earls are among those who are in a contract-year, as the IRFU review their financial position, following the impact of Covid-19.

Earlier in the year, Chief Executive Philip Browne said it is possible they could lose players to wealthier clubs abroad.

Currently, head coach Andy Farrell is only selecting Irish-based players for his squads, with the likes of Simon Zebo and Donnacha Ryan in test exile.

And while Performance Director David Nucifora says there is no outright policy set in stone, they will not be budging from their current selection preferences, even if they lose their biggest stars.

"No, we've got no intention of doing that at the moment," he said

"At the moment, the position we've been in is if players choose not to play their rugby in Ireland, it's unlikely we'd select them, it's not a hard and fast rule, there's no hard and fast rule about that, we've never had one.

"But our attitude towards it wouldn't change, we'd be selecting players who stay here and play for our provinces."

David Nucifora

Nucifora has explained the delay in contract negotiations taking place, as the IRFU plan how much they could potentially afford to pay players, before committing to any new deals.

He says they plan to be in a position to discuss terms with players and staff by the new year, but says he's confident there won't be any players let go due to financial reasons.

"I don't foresee that at all. What we needed to do was do a really thorough feasibility of where the business is going to be over the next 12, 18 months or two years, so we could responsibly take a position on offering long term contracts to the players.

"When we are contracting one, two or three years out, building up those types of liabilities, we have to be sure on our ability to meet those commitments.

"I suppose it's just about the business being responsible and making sure that we are when we do enter into negotiations, we know exactly where we are and anything we put on the table, we will be able to stand by with our players," he added.

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David Nucifora IRFU Johnny Sexton Philip Browne Tadhg Furlong

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