Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes has played down speculation that Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip has agreed to join mega-rich Toulon and warned that a move to France could shorten his career.
The Kiwi, who is himself joining Clermont at the end of the season, said that Leinster were still in negotiations to retain the Lions star and that he hoped Heaslip would choose to stay in Ireland.
“I think, with all the rumours about him being signed, as far as Leinster are concerned he is still in the process of staying and playing in Ireland,” said Gibbes.
"That remains open. He hasn’t signed for anyone. We’re still hopeful that he’ll ply his trade in Ireland."
Gibbes said his feeling was that Heaslip wanted to stay with Leinster, pointing to the “home-grown club” atmosphere at the province and prioritisation of the national side as reasons to choose Ireland over France.
“The contract conditions and the playing programme with Ireland and the money make it attractive for him to stay here,” said Gibbes.
“The home-grown club atmosphere that we’ve tried to build - he enjoys his work day to day and hopefully we provide that - I’m sure it would be difficult for him to walk away.
“There are always things they (players) have to consider, as individuals. How long they’ve got, what they’re going to do after rugby and maybe lifestyle opportunities.
“It’s a different culture, there’s better weather, let’s be honest - especially the clubs that are interested in those guys - and maybe he’s paid a little bit more. I don’t know but I’d say money has got something to do with it.
“It is not (a decision) made lightly. I think Johnny (Sexton) has been pretty honest about how hard it was. Those sort of reasons may sound superficial but they’re not.
"There’s a lot of thought goes into them. That’s what makes negotiations so difficult. It’s not a black or white sort of thing.
“I think it is in Jamie and Seanie’s (O’Brien) best interests to stay here, to be brutally honest. The way they’re set-up, with the player programme and the amount of games they play, I think they’ll get a longer career here and it will benefit the national team.”