Thursday 23 February 2017

French clubs target Munster veteran with big-money move

Hugh Farrelly

Ronan O'Gara. Photo: Getty Images
Ronan O'Gara. Photo: Getty Images

REPORTS in France claim that Ronan O'Gara is being targeted by Top 14 clubs for a switch to the continent after next year's World Cup.

The Ireland out-half has spent his entire career with Munster but the French media are reporting that the 33-year-old's CV is one of a number circulating among the Top 14 clubs, as the richest league in world rugby seeks high-profile captures after the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

As well as O'Gara, French clubs are investigating the possibility of signing top out-halves such as Dan Carter, Quade Cooper and James Hook -- with Carter said to be capable of commanding a salary as high as E1.2m for a three-season contract.

With a number of Ireland players out of contract at the end of the season, French clubs will be offering lucrative moves to the Top 14, although the controlled environment of the Irish set-up has the advantage of providing greater player protection.

However, the high cost of acquiring overseas stars is off-putting for some French owners -- such as Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal.

"E1.2m for Dan Carter with a contract for three seasons, is it reasonable? Everyone is wary of the cost. In the current economy of rugby, the white line is crossed," said Boudjellal.

Meanwhile, All Blacks second-row Ali Williams is said to be keen on joining Leinster or Munster on a three-month deal as he attempts to get his career back on track in time for the World Cup.

The 29-year-old has been plagued by injury over the past two seasons and won the last of his 61 caps against England in 2008.

A short-term contract in Europe between November and January would aid his rehabilitation ahead of the commencement of the Super 15 and earlier this week Williams expressed his desire for a switch to European rugby.

Associates of Williams have subsequently suggested that Leinster and Munster are on the second-row's wish-list.

Leinster's Isa Nacewa and Munster's Doug Howlett were both team-mates of Williams at the Auckland Blues -- and both provinces have second-row injury issues, with Paul O'Connell and Leo Cullen currently out of action.

Irish Independent

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