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Cheika: IRFU must pay up

MICHAEL Cheika has warned the IRFU that if they don't pay their stars what they are worth, they should be prepared to lose them to France, WRITES Ruaidhri O'Connor.

The former Leinster coach -- now at Stade Francais -- is primed to raid his old club for Jonny Sexton and Jamie Heaslip, both of whom are out of contract at the end of the season and are yet to sign new deals. Cheika says he personally doesn't want to lure his former charges away from their home province, but he is ready to take advantage of the strong financial hand in his possession.

IRFU chief executive Philip Browne has insisted the union will not match the large amounts of money being offered by French clubs in order to keep star names at home and Sexton admitted earlier this week that he is growing frustrated with the lack of progress in signing a new deal.

And while he says he is reluctant to undo his own good work, Cheika says their departure is inevitable on the current terms.

"I want those players to stay in Ireland," he told Newstalk. "It's about time that the union, who are saying that the French clubs have got more money than everyone else, maybe they should be paying them the right money and they'll be staying there.

"I don't want Sexton to be coming here. I didn't spend all that time, working hard, to try and build that club so I can go and take the players. I think that's what will happen in the end, but they just have to pay what's right and they can have him."

The Australian, who led Leinster to the 2009 Heineken Cup, confirmed he wants to take Sexton to Paris.

Asked if he wouldn't mind signing the out-half, Cheika responded: "Of course. But I would honestly prefer him to stay in Ireland and if they pay what is right for all of the players, because the IRFU have good resources, they have a good crop of young players. They should do the right thing and pay them what they deserve."

Irish Independent