Sean O'Brien, Jamie Heaslip French deals in balance
Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip will not be unveiled as new signings in France today despite speculation in the French media that O'Brien was Clermont-bound and Jamie Heaslip, as well as Conor Murray, were destined to be snapped up by Toulouse.
Rumours have intensified about the future of Irish stars Heaslip, Murray and O'Brien (right) as a number of Top 14 clubs begin to home in on a variety of transfer targets in Wales and Ireland this week.
A source close to O'Brien confirmed to the Irish Independent that there was absolutely no prospect of the Tullow native being unveiled in France this week, although negotiations are believed to have reached a delicate stage.
It is believed that O'Brien would rather stay in Leinster but, as with Jonathan Sexton last season, he wants to be assured that any new contract being presented to keep him in Ireland will reflect his soaring value on the transfer market.
As it stands, O'Brien is the least likely of the trio to move, but there are growing fears within Irish rugby that Heaslip and Murray could join Sexton in France some time this month.
However, the Irish Independent was led to believe last night that neither player will be finalising a decision as soon as today -- the process has dragged on for quite a while now and clearly there is still work to be done.
The heavyweight French clubs are eyeing up a lucrative new TV deal and a €2m compensation package ahead of next season's rejigged Heineken Cup and they are willing to out bid the IRFU.
As is standard practice, neither Leinster Rugby nor the IRFU were prepared to comment on the speculation.
In Wales, captain Sam Warburton has given his Welsh employers a deadline of tomorrow to finalise his future -- Warburton is believed to be anxious to remain in Wales, even on a lesser salary than that offered in France. Clermont and Toulon have targeted the Lions captain, and both those French sides are also leading the chase for Leigh Halfpenny.
There was some positive news on the transfer front for Irish provinces yesterday: Leinster prop Martin Moore is due to reject Racing Metro and agree terms on an extension.
However, it looks as though Munster centre Casey Laulala is bound for Grenoble next season.
By David Kelly