Wednesday 18 October 2017

Leinster's Sean O'Brien set for French talks

Leinster star takes lead from Heaslip in travelling abroad for discussions over possible transfer

Leinster's Sean O'Brien
Leinster's Sean O'Brien
Rob Penney
Sean O'Brien is making another trip to France this week.
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Sean O'Brien looks set to follow Jamie Heaslip's lead by travelling to France to meet with suitors as soon as the end of this week.

The Leinster, Ireland and Lions back-row star, currently sidelined by a serious shoulder injury, has been courted by a number of clubs, with Toulon the main interested party in both him and his provincial team-mate.

Heaslip met with Toulon during his Christmas break, while Munster's Donnacha Ryan visited Perpignan and London Irish before turning both down to stay in Ireland on a three-year deal.

The Irish Independent understands that O'Brien (pictured) could follow suit to meet with interested parties as early as this Friday.

The Leinster duo are yet to commit their future to the province and Ireland despite talks with the IRFU, with the Union hoping to have all of their transfer business done by the start of the Six Nations.

However, reports in France yesterday that Heaslip is set for fresh talks with Toulon are believed to be wide of the mark.

The Ireland vice-captain's representatives have been meeting with the IRFU in recent days as they await an offer from the European champions and it is thought the chances of him leaving may have receded, leaving O'Brien an increasingly attractive candidate for the French giants.

Staying in Ireland is believed to be both players' preferred option, but with the IRFU operating in increasing uncertainty over the future of both their domestic and European competitions -- while running a budget deficit this year after poor five and 10-year ticket sales for the Aviva Stadium -- it is unlikely they will be able to match what the big-spending French clubs can offer.

The IRFU and the provinces will be hoping that their financial package, combined with the attractions of remaining in the Irish system in a World Cup year and being protected by the Player Performance Management system, will sway the pair, who are crucial to both Leinster's and Ireland's plans.

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