Munster legend Paul O'Connell's move to Toulon looked to be off before an apparent U-turn from Toulon and the deal was signed just hours ahead of the French transfer deadline. There were reports from Midi Olympique yesterday that the three-time European champions had gone cold on the Irish captain, and that the deal could have been off.
Gavin Mortimer, a France-based English journalist and writer frequently translates the French rugby newspapers, spoke to Off The Ball yesterday about how close the Toulon-O'Connell deal was to being off. Mortimer said that a reliable source said that the deal had gone cold last week.
The French do business in a different way to what we're used to. They are a bit more laid back. It certainly seems that he [O'Connell] was getting a little concerned about the situation having already been released from his own contract.
Mortimer said it's hard to know whether Toulon were genuinely looking for alternatives as was suggested. The report in the Midi Olympique seemed to say that Bayonne lock Mark Chisholm was a target after the Australian second row was relegated with Bayonne and wants to stay in the Top 14.
Whether there was some truth in that, who knows. It has been a messy situation, but it's resolved now. The situation resolved itself in the space of about 10 hours.
O'Connell joins the likes of Springbok Duane Vermuelen who also signed for Toulon yesterday, and Ma'a Nonu as the new galacticos for the current triple European champions.
Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE