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Top 14
Clermont have Leinster pair in sights
ESPN Staff
September 10, 2013
Both Sean O'Brien and Jamie Heaslip turned out for the Lions in the summer © Getty Images
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Leinster are optimistic they can keep hold of star duo Jamie Heaslip and Sean O'Brien despite reported interest from Clermont Auvergne.

The Top 14 giants have a five-man wish list with the Irish duo featuring alongside Wales' Leigh Halfpenny and Alun-Wyn Jones and All Black Ma'a Nonu, according to La Montagne. The Irish Rugby Football Union will broker any contract with Heaslip and O'Brien as they are on international contracts but both the IRFU and Leinster will be mindful of Jonathan Sexton's departure to Racing Metro last season.

The man who masterminded that deal, Fintan Drury, looks after O'Brien - both his and Heaslip's contracts are up at the end of the season - and so knows the inner-workings of the French transfer market better than most, but Leinster boss Matt O'Connor hopes the pair will extend their contracts with Ireland, rather than seeking a move to Clermont.

O'Connor told the Irish Times: "We would back the environment to make it very, very difficult for them to leave, like we did with Jonny."

And while Heaslip and O'Brien could be on their way out of Leinster at the end of the season, one man who looks set to be joining is ex-Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri. Reports on Monday claim he is likely to sign within the next week or so and O'Connor is looking forward to the qualities the 67-cap veteran will bring to his team.

"He can bring 6ft 4ins of raw power," O'Connor said. "He's very experienced, he's played in both codes all over the world and in my experience, Lote is an unbelievable competitor; he's extremely physical and we'll be looking to get a little bit of that experience in the wide channels. He's at a bit of a loose end, he's finished up his rugby league career, which he was very keen to do.

"I worked with him at Leicester where he went from to return to NRL. He has performed admirably in that, he's had some injury worries but he is back playing and played last weekend. He is quite excited about the next chapter in his life really."

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