Schmidt bid on the cards
LEINSTER would love to add Donnacha Ryan to their squad if the Munster second-row decides to switch provinces, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.
The in-form 28-year-old has been in negotiations with the IRFU on a new contract since before Christmas and, with fellow Ireland second-rows Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan recently signing contract extensions with Munster, it would be preferable for the union not to have three centrally contracted players in the same position.
Leinster are on the look-out for a quality second-row and with the IRFU's new policy favouring Irish-qualified players, Ryan would be an ideal signing.
The province have not approached the Nenagh man, but coach Joe Schmidt confirmed that he is a big admirer of Ryan, who has been starting ahead of O'Callaghan for Munster this season.
"We can't outbid for him because he is an Ireland player but would we like to have him? To be honest, he is a really good player," said Schmidt. "If we wanted to approach him, and I confirm that we haven't, the thing is that he actually starts for Munster. The fact that he doesn't for Ireland is a separate issue.
"Tony McGahan (Munster coach) is giving him every shot. Selection is only ever one man's opinion so it is a question of whether Donnacha felt the need to leave."
Meanwhile, Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny has underlined Wales' principal Six Nations objective -- to win the Grand Slam.
Stage three of that plan will be completed on Saturday if Wales defeat England. It would also give Wales their 20th championship Triple Crown, leaving them needing home wins over Italy and France to complete a second tournament clean sweep of Warren Gatland's four-year reign.
"At the end of the day we want to be the best," Halfpenny said. "That means winning every single game and achieving the Grand Slam. That is the objective in this tournament -- nothing less.
"We want to be the best, and we set high goals to bring the best out of us. Winning trophies is our goal, and we believe we can achieve that."