'The offer is well below where it needs to be' - Rob Kearney weighs up France move as contract talks stall
Rob Kearney was the glaring omission from the list of 21 contracts signed, sealed and delivered by Leinster yesterday.
And with good reason. The Leinster and Ireland full-back has attracted the interest of at least two French clubs due to the current divide between what Kearney wants and what the IRFU are willing to give.
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The full-back is contracted up until the end of the World Cup and is looking to continue his career to the end of next season, at the very least.
"Discussions are ongoing with Leinster and the IRFU. We had hoped to have reached a conclusion by now," said Kearney's manager, Dave McHugh.
"The discussion is live and open. But it has led us to check other options.
"We are still hopeful of reaching an agreement with the IRFU and Leinster."
Kearney is discovering that the IRFU plays hardball when it comes to contracts for players into their 30s.
Indeed, Sean O'Brien has referenced how he would have taken 25% of what London Irish offered to stay at Leinster.
In fact, it was earlier this month when O'Brien posted an Instagram photo with Kearney with the message, ‘best of luck in France chieftain been a pleasure.'
"The IRFU has made Rob an offer. But if I am honest, it is well below where it needs to be – well below," said McHugh.
"It has been a little protracted. We are struggling to get it to a point where it makes sense for him.
"It is Rob's goal to continue playing rugby while he is fit and healthy and well.
"He is a starter both for his country and for his province. We need it to make sense for him.
"We appreciate there is an end point to his rugby playing career. But it isn't yet."
Kearney is willing to follow O'Brien out of the club if the terms do not adequately reflect his current standing in the game.
"Rob is contracted to the end of the World Cup, so I guess we're not in the same rush that Leinster were to announce their 21 new contracts for the start of next season.
"He wouldn't return to the province until after the World Cup, so there isn't the same urgency from our perspective."
Meanwhile, Cian Healy has signed a two-year extension to his National Contract, joining the previously secured deals for Jonathan Sexton and Robbie Henshaw.
It wasn't that long ago that Healy was on the brink of retirement due to a serious neck injury.
"Pulling on a Leinster or an Ireland jersey is something that I have always taken a huge amount of pride in and I am thankful for every opportunity I get," said Healy.
"There has been some difficult times over the last few years for me personally with injury.
"The support within the Leinster and the Irish rugby family was very humbling from fellow players, coaches and supporters. It's something that I won't forget," issued the loose-head.
"It made this decision all the easier knowing that I was part of something bigger than just a rugby team."
Leinster New Senior Contracts 2019/20
B Byrne, J Conan, M Deegan, S Fardy, C Frawley*, J Gibson-Park, C Healy, R Henshaw, D Kearney, H Keenan*, C Kelleher, R Kelleher*, D Leavy, F McFadden, L McGrath, J Murphy, C O'Brien*, J O'Brien*, H O'Sullivan*, S Penny*, J Sexton.
*Players Promoted from the Academy.
Leinster Departees 2018/19
T Daly, M Kearney, N McCarthy, J McGrath, I Nagle, S O'Brien, N Reid.