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Perpignan and Stade Francais lead chase to sign O'Leary

PERPIGNAN and Stade Francais are believed to be battling to secure the signature of Munster scrum-half Tomas O'Leary, who failed to make Ireland's Six Nations squad yesterday.

O'Leary, whose Munster contract expires at the end of the season, lost out to Conor Murray for province and country last year and missed out on World Cup selection, having been the regular first-choice scrum-half since 2008.

As reported in the Irish Independent in November, the 28-year-old was understood to be considering a switch to France and became the subject of concerted Top 14 interest. Now, French sources indicate that 2009 champions Perpignan and Michael Cheika's Stade Francais are both looking to sign him.

There are Munster links with both clubs as second-row Mick O'Driscoll played for Perpignan between 2003 and '05, while ex-Reds utility back Paul Warwick is on the books at Stade Francais.

O'Leary made an impressive, try-scoring cameo off the bench for the Ireland Wolfhounds in the defeat to the England Saxons last weekend but has been left out of Ireland's 32-man squad ahead of Sunday's clash with Wales.

Irish Independent