Gloucester eyeing Josh Bassett as potential signing if Monahan departs
PROLIFIC Bedford Blues wing Josh Bassett is in Gloucester's sights – in case Shane Monahan is lured away from Kingsholm.
Gloucester bosses have been making contingency plans while talks continue with bruising winger Monahan over a new deal for next season.
Power-runner Monahan has impressed at almost every turn this term after stepping up from Championship club Rotherham in the summer.
Monahan's line-breaking abilities have alerted former club Connacht and Premiership outfit London Irish, who are both keen to snap up the out-of-contract 25-year-old.
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Gloucester still expect the former Leinster Academy wide man to sign new terms to stay for at least a second season at Kingsholm.
But should he decide his future lies elsewhere, Gloucester are seriously eyeing 20-year-old Bedford finisher Bassett as a potential replacement.
The England Under-20s graduate topped the Championship try-scoring charts last term with 14, heading off to the Junior World Championships in South Africa.
At 6ft 3in and 14st 7lb Bassett is an imposing figure who could prove a like-for-like replacement for Monahan, and has certainly continued his free-scoring exploits this term.
Bassett was an England Under-20s squad-mate of Gloucester's rising stars Dan Robson, Ryan Mills and Koree Britton in the summer, and trained with Saracens in pre-season.
The arch-finisher already boasts ten league tries for Bedford this term, and represented the RFU Championship XV against the New Zealand Maori in Doncaster in November.
Monahan rubber-stamped his top-level class with four tries in Gloucester's 47-3 London Irish hammering at Kingsholm in the Amlin Challenge Cup on December 15.
The Exiles were not the only side struck by that performance, though, and Irish province Connacht are understood to be monitoring his situation too.
Monahan provides the perfect foil for Gloucester's speed-merchant wings James Simpson-Daniel, Jonny May and Charlie Sharples.
Bryan Redpath recruited him to fill the void left by Lesley Vainikolo's abrupt departure for La Rochelle in January 2012.
Ireland Under-20s cap Monahan progressed through County Mead's Boyne RFC to Leinster's Academy.
He completed the Under-20s Six Nations Grand Slam alongside the likes of Keith Earls and Cian Healy.
As he started to mature at Leinster though, he was confronted with the roadblock of a British Lions-dominated backline, unable to push past seasoned internationals like Shane Horgan.
Monahan moved on to Connacht but encountered similar problems at the Galway-based Irish province.
And after a year he took the bold step of moving to the English Championship, signing for Rotherham.
Titans boss Andre Bester promised Monahan that one standout season would catapult him into Premiership reckoning – and so it proved.
One year of bruising line-breaking and 11 tries later, Gloucester swooped.
Monahan took little time to settle to his Premiership task, and Kingsholm bosses have been suitably impressed.
The Cherry and Whites remain favourites to retain his services, but the situation is not as straightforward as first expected.