€500,000 - What Rob Kearney turned down from France to stay with Leinster
Rob Kearney yesterday resisted the temptation of a lucrative move to France by signing a new two-year contract with Leinster and Ireland.
The Lions full-back is believed to have been offered more than €500,000 to move to a Top 14 club after this year's World Cup, but instead Kearney put pen to paper on a deal that will see him stay at the RDS until 2013.
The 24-year-old joined team-mates Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Brian O'Driscoll, Fergus McFadden and Jonny Sexton in snubbing interest from abroad to commit their futures to the province.
Kearney has not played since he suffered a serious knee injury in Ireland's November defeat to New Zealand and has twice undergone surgery on the damaged leg. The Louthman is hopeful of a return in time for Leinster's Heineken Cup showdown with Leicester at the Aviva Stadium next month.
"We want to keep all our players at home," Ireland coach Declan Kidney said yesterday. "It is, by and large, why the provinces are successful. It's a win-win situation for everyone."
The good news regarding Kearney was tempered by word that Stephen Ferris will take no part in this year's Six Nations campaign. The blindside has been out of action since he injured his knee in Ulster's Heineken Cup win against Aironi on January 22. There are question marks over the 25-year-old's long-term future as the injured joint has no cartilage.
Tomas O'Leary could still recover from his back injury in time for next week's visit to face Wales, but Ireland manager Paul McNaughton confirmed Ferris is now focusing on getting fit in time for Ulster's European quarter-final against Northampton on April 10.
"He is down for a consultant's visit to London this weekend and they will know more after that," he said, "but it is too early to write him out of the Heineken Cup game at this stage."
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