Saturday 20 January 2018

O'Connor to press IRFU in bid to bring back Tuqiri

18 November 2013; Leinster's Lote Tuqiri during squad training ahead of their Celtic League 2013/14, Round 8, game against Benetton Treviso on Sunday. Leinster Rugby Squad Training & Press Briefing, Rosemount, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
18 November 2013; Leinster's Lote Tuqiri during squad training ahead of their Celtic League 2013/14, Round 8, game against Benetton Treviso on Sunday. Leinster Rugby Squad Training & Press Briefing, Rosemount, UCD, Belfield, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
David Kelly

David Kelly

Matt O'Connor is hopeful that Lote Tuqiri may return to Dublin to continue his short-lived Leinster career.

And the coach also confirmed that the rapid progression of tighthead prop Martin Moore will be confirmed with a new contract sooner rather than later, while the belated delivery of a new hooker may also be clarified before Christmas.

"Lote's contract finished at the end of November," said O'Connor of the 34-year-old former Wallaby star, who has made headlines for all the wrong reasons of late.

"We're in discussions with the Union to extend that stay. We've got our day in the sun next week to talk to the Union about that."

Tuqiri may have to negotiate more delicate discussions back in Australia in order to reciprocate Leinster's generous offer.

"Marty's indicated that he wants to stay," added O'Connor. "So we are moving forward on that.

"We're still trying to find a (replacement) hooker for Richardt Strauss. That should happen, hopefully."

WHISPERS

O'Connor admits to grinning and bearing the ongoing shenanigans as Chinese whispers continue to envelop back-row stars Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip.

"That's the game," he concedes. "It is supply and demand. Nothing's changed in that regard. There's probably greater demand for certain positions in the market with the game, certainly at the top level, becoming very competitive.

"They are Leinster players and Ireland players, and their decision whether to stay or go is weighted very heavily on how they feel and the ties they have with Leinster, as it is with the national set-up.

"We weigh in on all those things and put our case to the players and the Union and everybody else. It's very much a mutual approach.

"Hopefully they make really good rugby decisions and they choose to stay with us."

Of course, a likely outcome is that only one of the pair will choose to go, but O'Connor refused to assume the role of Solomon. "No comment!" he smiled. It was as if he had been asked to choose a favourite amongst his three kids.

Irish Independent

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