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Toulon tell Heaslip to sign-up or shut-up

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Leinster's Jamie Heaslip. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Leinster's Jamie Heaslip. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

THIS was the short and not-so-sweet banner headline on the cover of Midi Olympique yesterday as Toulon appeared to have conceded defeat in their pursuit of Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip.

The wheel of fortune or misfortune that has accompanied the long, extended process over tying down Jamie Heaslip to a two-year deal could have turned in favour of Leinster and the IRFU.

Not so fast. It is still dangerous to make such a presumption at this stage given how Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal is not beyond manipulating the media in a 'sign-up or shut-up shop' final message to Heaslip.

It is not unusual for the multi-millionaire entrepreneur to bend the media to his will as he has risen to become the most powerful benefactor in world rugby.

There is a sound basis for believing that Heaslip's contract will be concluded, one way or the other, by the end of this week.

At the very least, there is growing positivity that Heaslip may follow in the footsteps of Seán O'Brien by committing to his province.

CAPTURED

According to aforementioned headline, Toulon have chased and captured Halfpenny as they contemplate goal-kicking without Jonny Wilkinson, who is due to retire at the end of the season.

There is still a chance that Wilkinson might extend his career by another year. In that case, Halfpenny is seen as a pre-emptive strike, perhaps stepping up as the former England fly-half has his game time tapered next season.

Either way, Halfpenny would be a sound strategic choice given his dead-eye for points. He will reportedly come in at a cost of a €480,000 per-season.

The Rouge et Noir – that's Red and Black in French – are notoriously conservative on their travels around France in the Top 14 Championship and the Heineken Cup, relying on Wilkinson's accuracy for many of their victories.


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