June 5, 2013
Preliminary discussions begin between the IRFU's director of human resources Maurice Dowling, Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson and Sean O'Brien's agent Fintan Drury at the Herbert Park Hotel in Ballsbridge. Drury outlines a proposal to the other parties as to what he believes O'Brien's new deal should be worth, but that is not deemed acceptable. The talks end without resolution, but a further date is scheduled.
O'Brien gives an interview to Newstalk in which he admits his head could be turned by the right move to France as he confirmed that he was not among the top earners after signing his last deal in 2011.
"It is something I'd have to consider," he said. "At the minute I'm in Leinster and Ireland and I love playing for both of those. That's where I want to be, but I need to look after me as well, look after my best interests, so it is a grey area."
The trio reconvene at the same hotel for a meeting which Drury described as "brief and cordial" but resolution has not been found. The proposal was revisited but could not be advanced.
In a Sunday newspaper interview, Drury -- who also represents Jonathan Sexton -- said that negotiations had yet to begin in earnest. The IRFU would later dispute his comments, saying that the agent had not responded to the email the union had sent to him on October 1.
O'Brien puts in a stunning display as Ireland go heartbreakingly close to beating New Zealand at Lansdowne Road. His future has yet to be resolved, but the standout performer of the November Series' value to Irish rugby is re-emphasised by his barnstorming performance.
The rumour mill goes wild with talk that O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip are close to agreeing moves to Toulon. While the reports are rubbished by involved sources, the emergence of the European champions as serious contenders for the duo is a real threat to them staying in Ireland.
With talks between O'Brien's representatives, the IRFU and Leinster on-going, the player himself dislocates his shoulder while playing for the province against Ulster. He goes on to be ruled out for four to five months and will miss the Six Nations.
JANUARY 7, 2014
Unperturbed by the Tullow Tank's injury, Toulon step up their interest in the 26-year-old and invite him to travel to France to view the club's facilities and discuss terms.
O'Brien watches the European champions' impressive win over Cardiff Blues in Nice and is impressed by what he sees on his visit to the south of France. Toulon are convinced that they have got their man after agreeing a salary believed to be in the region of €600,000 gross and €470,000 after tax.
After late-night negotiations and a much-improved offer of around €420,000, O'Brien commits his future to Leinster and Ireland, saying he was flattered by interest from "some of the biggest clubs in the world".