Mannix makes move to take Coughlan to France
OUTGOING Munster backs coach Simon Mannix is preparing an audacious bid to bring No 8 James Coughlan with him to Pau next season.
The New Zealander will take over as Directeur sportif at the French second-tier outfit this summer and it is understood that he has made the 33-year-old Corkman a top target as he seeks promotion to the Top 14.
Coughlan has another year to run on his current deal, but the arrival of Robin Copeland from Cardiff Blues represents direct competition from a player in Ireland's World Cup plans.
Despite his excellent performances for Munster, the late developer has failed to force his way into the Ireland reckoning.
He has been a vital member of the province's team for several seasons and was one of their top performers in the Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon.
Meanwhile, Ulster are believed to be interested in signing Charlie Butterworth as a replacement for Sean Doyle.
Doyle is returning to Australia to play Super Rugby, while there are question marks over Stephen Ferris' future and the impressive Lansdowne youngster, who hails from Wicklow, could be handed a development contract at Ravenhill.
Ulster remain interested in a more high profile back-row, with Mark Anscombe being linked with a move for former New Zealand U-20 flanker Brendan O'Connor.