Sport Rugby

Tuesday 12 December 2017

O'Connor insists O'Brien and Heaslip are going nowhere

Leinster's Sean O'Brien, left, Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D'Arcy, right, celebrate after the final whistle at the Heineken Cup Final in 2012 Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Sean O'Brien, left, Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D'Arcy, right, celebrate after the final whistle at the Heineken Cup Final in 2012 Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Jamie Heaslip arrives for squad training.
Leinster's Dave Kearney arrives at yesterday's press conference at the RDS
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor
David Kelly

David Kelly

Leinster boss Matt O'Connor has confirmed that Sean O'Brien joined Jamie Heaslip in visiting France recently ahead of a proposed move there -- but still insists that the duo will stay at the club despite the financial lure of the Top 14.

However, Heaslip's former international colleague Ronan O'Gara believes the 30-year-old should leave Leinster after "achieving all that he can" with the Irish province.

O'Connor is so confident that his star players will not leave, he has also revealed that he has not even begun to assess any potential replacements -- albeit he has consistently expressed satisfaction with the current back-row options available to him.

"Sean went over there last week to have a look," said O'Connor of O'Brien, who may yet miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

"He's got the luxury of a bit of time on his hands. You wouldn't want to step in Sean's way of going down there and looking at an environment and seeing what it offers him individually.

"I don't think it has changed his opinion. He has expressed his preference would be to stay with Leinster and play in Ireland and that's all we can go on."

However, O'Connor has expressed a frustration, apparently shared by the majority of Irish sports fans, that this saga has been needlessly elongated.

"Yeah, we would all want it done and dusted but that's not the reality of it," he said. "At this point, it hasn't become a distraction for the environment.

"It's part of the professional environment and I'm sure that there's light at the end of the tunnel. It's not too far away from being sorted one way or the other.

"There's no time frame from our end. We're trying to work with the boys and their representatives to get to a place where everyone is happy."

"We haven't looked at any recruits, we're happy with what is behind those guys. We'll wait and see when it's clarified and, hopefully, that will be sooner."

O'Gara threw his oar into the debate yesterday, saying he feels this is the right time for Heaslip to move.

"Jamie is very durable and could easily stand up to it, but maybe it's the time for him to make the best of his career and what's best for him financially, setting himself up for the future," said O'Gara.

"He has given everything to Leinster and Ireland, there comes a time where maybe you think: 'yes I need to do this'. You can perfectly see that."

He is not too sure if the move may suit O'Brien, however.

"For someone like Sean O'Brien, the exact same could apply in four years' time, he doesn't need to make the move now.

"But we are not privy to the deals being put on the table. He could be set up for a great career when rugby does end. That's why there is such a song and dance being made about it -- because they are wanted.

"These two will attract the best clubs."

Dave Kearney also revealed yesterday that he has yet to sign a new deal, while the futures of young players such as Rhys Ruddock and Martin Moore also remain unconfirmed.

Irish Independent

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