Rugby will dominate the sports headlines for the next few days, and rightfully so. The sport has crept its way out towards the back pages in the past month, following an extremely quiet off-season. In the absence of a World Cup or Lions tour, rugby faded to the back of the public consciousness over the summer, without even speculation linking Ireland's top internationals with a move to France keeping the sport splashed across the back pages.
That lack of transfer speculation may, however, be about to end.
French sports paper Midi Olympique are this morning linking Jamie Heaslip with a move to France, as his central contract with the IRFU expires this summer.
Heaslip was heavily linked with a move to Toulon before signing a new contract with Leinster and the IRFU in 2014, worth an estimated €1.5 million.
Ireland's Number 8 was close to linking up with Toulon: he had visited the club's facilities and had been offered a pretty lucrative deal, which is believed to have included a sizeable house on the Cote D'Azur. He was also linked with Montpellier, Racing 92 and Grenoble. While Heaslip signed that contract with the IRFU, he has also admitted that the "business side" of the game may tempt him to finish his career in France.
With all that in mind, the links have begun today in Midi Olympique. Here's the article in today's paper, via Gavin Mortimer:
It is still pretty vague, with the report merely stating that Heaslip's CV is circulating in France, and has landed on the desk of a number of Top 14 presidents, although does claim that "If Racing 92 don't respond, other clubs in search of a number 8 could seize the opportunity", meaning that O'Gara's Racing may be in pole position.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out, and whether or not the IRFU will be willing to commit to another mega contract to Keep Heaslip in Ireland, what with our wealth of options in the back row. That is all assuming that Heaslip wants to stay in Ireland.
That same paper carries the following front page, evidently sending it to the printers sometime before Saturday night.