Leinster eye Australian star Ashley-Cooper to replace Kirchner
Blues lead summer chase for Ashley-Cooper as O'Gara courts Ryan for move to Racing 92
After missing out on what would have been a significant coup in the shape of All Black star Israel Dagg, Leinster are prepared to re-direct their attention towards Australia's Adam Ashley-Cooper.
The versatile Ashley-Cooper, who turned down a move to Leinster four years ago, is to be released by Bordeaux-Begles this summer and can play at wing, full-back or in the centre.
Leinster have the funds available, and a vacant slot for an overseas player, with Zane Kirchner expected to depart at the end of the season.
London Irish, destined for a return to the top flight of English rugby, have expressed a strong interest in Ashley-Cooper, who will turn 33 next month and has won 116 caps for his country. He has also been linked with a cushier move to Japanese club side Kintetsu.
Another speculative transfer deal being spoken about in France concerns rejuvenated Munster lock Donnacha Ryan, who is being courted by former team-mate Ronan O'Gara for Racing 92.
Meanwhile, the IRFU have confirmed that Jamie Heaslip has penned a new deal that runs up until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Heaslip has not yet decided if he will then complete his career at Leinster or take advantage of what are likely to be a number of big-money offers in France or Japan.
The new deal is not as lucrative as the €1.5m contract Heaslip signed three years ago, when there was more substantial interest from French clubs, and has been fully funded by the Union.
"My aim when I started my professional rugby career was to leave the jersey - either the blue of Leinster or the green of Ireland - in a better place than when I first put it on and this new contract gives me the chance to continue to chase this dream," said Heaslip, who didn't commit to finishing his career in Ireland.