O’Gara says French move not right for O’Brien

Former Ireland outhalf suggests Toulon timing better for the ‘very durable’ Jamie Heaslip

Racing Metro kicking coach Ronan O’Gara (centre) believes timing is right for Jamie Heaslip to move to France but not Seán O’Brien.  Photograph: Harold Cunningham/Inpho

Racing Metro kicking coach Ronan O’Gara (centre) believes timing is right for Jamie Heaslip to move to France but not Seán O’Brien. Photograph: Harold Cunningham/Inpho


Former Ireland outhalf Ronan O’Gara suggests Leinster backrow Seán O’Brien should hold off on a move to France for a few years but that the time is right for number eight Jamie Heaslip.

The Racing Metro kicking coach, a former international team-mate of both Leinster players, spent his entire career with Munster before moving to Paris after he retired from playing last year.

Both Heaslip and O’Brien are due to hold further talks with European champions Toulon this week after contract negotiations with the IRFU stalled recently, but O’Gara says such a move might not suit the latter just yet.

The attritional nature of the game in France, coupled with O’Brien’s history with injury, would not be ideal for the Carlow man who, O’Gara has suggested, whereas the “durable” Heaslip “could easily stand up to the move”.

At 26, he says, O’Brien, who is currently sidelined for four to five months with a shoulder injury, might benefit from the IRFU’s careful handling of his game-time for a few more years.

“I think the set-up in Ireland is fantastic,” O’Gara told Sky Sports today. “They are two separate cases. I think Seán O’Brien is 26 and has 30 caps for Ireland while Jamie Heaslip is 30 and has 60 caps so you’re not comparing like with like.

“Jamie is very durable and could easily stand up to the move and maybe it is time for him to make the best of his career and what’s best for him financially and set himself up for the future. I think he has given everything to Leinster and Ireland so there comes a time where maybe yes he needs to do this.

O’Gara added: “I think that someone like Seán O’Brien the same can apply in four years time. He doesn’t need to make the move now. But, we’re not privy to the deal that has been put on the table and he could be set up for a great career when rugby does end.

“These two players will attract the best of clubs and Toulon may appeal to them because there’s a cultural change there but there’s two separate arguments for both of them.”

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