‘Munster not signing Smith’ – Erasmus

Date published: December 22 2016

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus has dismissed speculation that the Irish province are trying to sign New Zealand full-back Ben Smith.

Erasmus said it's untrue that he was planning to offer the All Blacks vice captain a big money move from his Super Rugby franchise, the Highlanders, as his main transfer targets are Irish qualified.

"We are constantly looking for Irish qualified players,"  told The42.ie

"One of my briefs is to get Irish qualified players well coached and available for Joe. All four provinces are the same and Ben Smith is obviously not Irish qualified, so that’s not true."

Erasmus also said another All Black, centre Francis Saili, could make his comeback from injury in Monday's clash against Leinster at Thomond Park or against Connacht in Galway on New Year's Eve.

Erasmus revealed that Saili's return is on the cards as he made a full recovery and that Munster are still negotiating to extend his temporary replacement Jaco Taute's short-term stint which ends next week.

"Yes, he’s very keen to play," said Erasmus about Saili’s return. 

"He’s the kind of guy who enjoys when Munster plays well, so he wouldn’t be bothered that Jaco played well. He’d like to play well with Jaco and Rory (Scannell) or Dan (Goggin) and we are just so excited to see him out on the park and now it’s our job to make sure we manage him back into the system whilst trying to win all the time as we change and test combinations.

"It’s an interesting time for us, but surely a very good situation to be in."