Sunday 18 March 2018

Leinster ponder Chabal swoop

ALL BLACK lock Brad Thorn could soon be a Leinster player if the province can persuade his Japanese club to agree to release him for three months, writes Ruaidhri O'Connor.

The 37-year-old World Cup winner is keen on a move to the European champions, who have contacted Fukuoka Sanix Blues with a view to securing his release. The Japanese season is approaching its end and Leinster are looking to take advantage of their three-month close season to bolster their ranks.

If the deal for Thorn does not come to fruition, Joe Schmidt yesterday said that there was a possibility of Leinster turning to France behemoth Sebastien Chabal, who has fallen out with coach Pierre Berbezier at Racing Metro.

Leinster have a major issue at second-row with Leo Cullen out for eight to 12 weeks after Achilles surgery and Steven Sykes back in South Africa after an unsuccessful spell.

Damien Browne is the only available tighthead lock, but he has been carrying a shoulder injury.

"We've been left pretty short in the second-row department," Schmidt said. "Brad is pretty keen to come if that's possible. That's the first step and the second is to gain approval from the IRFU and they've been very good. They can identify that we do have a real shortage in the second-row.

"That would be something that they would be agreeable to as long as we can get an agreement with the Japanese club. We've been in contact with them and we're waiting for some feedback from them.

"We will probably know in the next week or so. We're working on a very tight time-frame. We would need him by early March to get a three-month contract that would make him eligible to cover us in the ERC games as well as the Rabo games."

As for Chabal?

"Would we talk to him? Never say never because we've got to look at the resources we have currently, and while we have confidence in the personnel we have, if we get one more injury we are very, very skinny."

Irish Independent

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