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Exeter set to beat rival Irish province to signing of Leinster's Jack Dunne

By Ian Cameron
Jack Dunne /Getty

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Exeter Chiefs are reported to be close to signing Leinster secondrow Jack Dunne, in the process beating a rival Irish province to the punch for the hulking forward.

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The Rugby Paper reported the news this morning.

The Chiefs are looking to fill the giant hole left that will be left with the departure of British & Irish Lion Jonny Hill, who is swapping Devon for Manchester and the Sale Sharks at the end of the season.

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While Dunne is in advanced talks with the Gallagher Premiership side, RugbyPass understands there is also considerable interest and an offer on the table from Connacht for the 6’8, 122kg forward.

RugbyPass also understands that Exeter are interested in a second Leinster secondrow, the as yet uncapped Charlie Ryan.

The 6’8, 115kg 22-year-old is coming off an academy contract at Leinster at the end of the season.

The loss of one or both locks would leave Leinster a little light in the engine-room. Wallaby Scott Fardy left the club last season and 35-year-old Devin Toner was on the brink of retirement before signing a one-year extension to keep him in Dublin. Leinster may need to do the same again this year and give Toner a second extension – presuming he is willing.

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Ryan Baird and Ross Molony remain options alongside Ireland mainstay James Ryan. With Molony and Baird on the margins of the Ireland setup, however, it could potentially create a major vacuum in the position for the province during international windows.

RugbyPass understands that Leinster are in the market to bring a ‘world class’ southern hemisphere signing to the RDS in the position. Leinster have a track record of big-name forwards penning contracts.  Brad Thorn, Rocky Elsom, Nathan Hines and Ollie Le Roux [as well as the aforementioned Fardy], all enjoyed celebrated stints in the Irish capital, becoming cult heroes in the process.

There’s also been flops: Steven Sykes, Owen Finnegan and Kane Douglas all failed to fire during their time in Ireland.

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