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Robbie Henshaw will only leave Connacht for an inter-provincial rival

By Jonathan Bradley

Connacht's Robbie Henshaw has ruled out a move abroad when his contract expires at the end of this season.

The international centre, who has forged a fruitful partnership with Ulster's Jared Payne in Joe Schmidt's midfield, is keeping his options open within the Irish set-up, however.

While rumours persist that Munster's Simon Zebo could be tempted by the experience on offer in the Top 14 - having been linked with Stade Francais and Pau in recent weeks - Henshaw will leave Connacht only for an inter-provincial rival.

Leinster are seen as his most likely suitors even though Leo Cullen's side already have Ben Te'o, Ian Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald, Noel Reid and Garry Ringrose at their disposal.

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"I have to look at my options and, I suppose, coming up towards Christmas we'll have to have a look," Henshaw explained yesterday.

"I can expect it to be an ongoing process.

"At the moment I have to get all my options on the table and then I'll have to see what's best for my career. I'm not making any decisions yet at the moment.

"I'm just waiting until all the options come in and then I'm going to assess what is the best choice for my career.

"I suppose, in terms of the French teams in the Champions Cup, their players are obviously being paid a significant amount of money, but I'd love to play all my rugby in Ireland at the moment.

"I'm still quite young so I wouldn't be thinking of leaving for a while. Further down the line it could be an option but at the moment I don't think so."

For now, the 22-year-old is fully focused on the western province with Pat Lam's men currently leading the way in the PRO12 and having won two from two in the Challenge Cup.

"I'm 100 per cent focused on Connacht for this year and for my contract so we'll see what happens towards the end of the year, but I'm completely committed and completely focused," added Henshaw.

"But if options do arise I'll take a look at them and I'll see what's best for my career.

"We'll decide then. I'm completely focused on my rugby and Connacht at the moment. All the off-the-pitch stuff is being dealt with by my agent. That's how it's going now.

"We haven't talked with the IRFU but I'd imagine it's more my call than theirs because I'm out of contract.

"But I suppose they could kind of guide you towards where they might want you playing. I'm not fully sure on that."

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