French aim to tempt away southern hemisphere’s leading players

Racing Metro interested in Dan Carter while Toulon have eyes on Israel Folau and Ma’a Nonu

The three major southern hemisphere nations are set to lose a number of their leading players to French clubs after next year's World Cup.

The Racing Metro owner, Jack Lorenzetti, has already declared his interest in signing the New Zealand outhalf Dan Carter, and his international team-mate Ma'a Nonu is believed to be close to signing a deal with Toulon. The Heineken Cup champions are also thought to be interested in acquiring the Australia full-back Israel Folau, who is 25, and the South Africa back-row Willem Alberts, who is 30.

Racing are losing outhalf Jonathan Sexton at the end of the season and failed in their attempt to lure the Australian international Matt Giteau from Toulon, where he signed a contract reported to be in seven figures.

“If the coaches agree, Dan Carter may be an opportunity to strengthen the club next season,” said Lorenzetti, not worried that the All Black of 100 caps will be 33 when he becomes available after the World Cup.


Carter spent part of the 2007-08 season with Perpignan, while on sabbatical from the New Zealand Rugby Union, but played only a couple of matches before suffering a long-term injury. His last Test match appearance was against England last autumn, when he won his 100th cap, and he has just returned from a knee injury, playing 40 minutes for Canterbury at the weekend in a defeat by Southland. The All Blacks hope Carter will be fit for their European tour in November.

Like the outhalf Nonu would be moving abroad for the final years of his career,

with the Toulon owner, Mourad Boudjellal, having declared his intention to sign four world-class players for next season.

He was accused by Lorenzetti this month of building up a squad without having any regard for what passes for a salary cap in the Top 14. “There is one question that needs to be asked to the president of Toulon,” Lorenzetti said. “The Top 14 cannot be a competition where 13 teams play by the rules of the salary cap and where Toulon play by their own rules.” Guardian Service