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French clubs circle Halfpenny chequebooks in hand
ESPN Staff
July 16, 2013
Lions fullback Leigh Halfpenny celebrates his side's series triumph, Australia v British & Irish Lions, ANZ Stadium, Sydney, July 6, 2013
In demand - Leigh Halfpenny recently helped the Lions to a series victory over Australia © PA Photos

Four days after Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland made public his determination to keep hold of Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton, the Rugby Paper reports that three French clubs are heading to London to try to sign Halfpenny.

"Whether or not Leigh will stay I don't know but he's a Welsh lad and we're hoping he will commit to the Blues," Holland told the Independent at the weekend. "We have already had discussions and we will be working hard with Leigh to lock him into the Blues for the foreseeable future." But the sums on offer, according to the Rugby Paper, would seem to price Holland out of the equation.

European champions Toulon are looking for a long-term replacement for Jonny Wilkinson and Clermont are also after a successor to Lee Byrne who is about to start his final season. Racing Metro are also in the game and they have already shown they are prepared to pay big money to secure the services of leading players.

The Blues are unlikely to be able to match financial packages, even with the additional funding the WRU has made available to try to keep talent at home, but they can offer a less punishing playing schedule which could be as important given the mass of international commitments.

Halfpenny's agent will meet with Holland later this week at which time the expectations will become clear. "There has to be a realisation that we can only afford so much," Holland told the Rugby Paper. "We haven't got three-quarters of a million to put on the table, or half a million. I will be honest with his representatives and tell them what we can afford.

"All I can do is put forward something which is competitive and we are confident we can broker a deal to keep Leigh at the Blues."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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