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Fissler Confidential: Burns to Munster agreed as Tigers hunt Wallaby

By Neil Fissler
Ulster's Billy Burns (Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leicester Tigers head coach Dan McKellar is looking to go shopping in his native Australia as he endeavours to strengthen his Mattioli Woods Welford Road squad next season.

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The Tigers are known to be battling Sale Sharks and Exeter Chiefs to bring Sam Spink home from the Western Force where he has been playing since Wasps went out of business.

But McKellar has also got Australia and NSW Waratahs ace Izaia Perese on his wanted list and is also keen on picking up a Melbourne Rebels loosehead believed to be South African-born Cabous Eloff.

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France 7s Captain Paulin Riva Dupont joining the 7s squad

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France 7s Captain Paulin Riva Dupont joining the 7s squad

Ireland fly-half Billy Burns has agreed a deal with Munster to move to the province when his deal with cash-strapped Ulster runs out at the end of the season.

The 29-year-old younger brother of former England fly-half Freddie moved to Ulster in 2018 and won the first of his Ireland caps two years later. He is joining Munster as a replacement for Joey Carbery, who is off to Bordeaux-Begles.

Burns will depart Ulster, who posted losses of £900,000 last year and have already told Will Addison, who has been speaking to his former club Sale, that he isn’t getting a new deal.

Northampton Saints could lose inside centre Rory Hutchinson when his Franklin’s Gardens contract runs out at the end of the season after it emerged they are struggling to agree on terms after talks deadlocked.

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Cambridge-born Hutchinson, who is closing in on 150 appearances for Saints and has won eight caps for Scotland, could become a target for the Scottish Rugby Union, who are keen to bring talent home.

He is also on the radar of French clubs and Bayonne had him on a watch list of centres that they were interested in signing this summer.

Former England scrum-half Jack Maunder is set to return to Europe later this year after signing a deal with French Pro D2 club Agen for the next two seasons.

Like his dad Andrew and brother Sam, Maunder played for his hometown club Exeter and is spending this season plying his trade for the Australian Super Rugby crisis club Melbourne Rebels.

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With the Rebels set to go out of business, Maunder, who started their 30-3 defeat to ACT Brumbies on Friday, has opted to move to the French second tier next season instead of returning to England.

Lyon have pulled the plug on a move for England hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie due to injury risk, which could open the door to him staying in the Premiership with Sale. The Top 14 outfit wanted to sign Cowan-Dickie and Jonny Hill from the Sharks, but injuries have forced them to rethink plans.

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It is the second time in two years that a move to France has failed to materialise for Cowan-Dickie. Montpellier pulled the plug on a two-year deal for him last year. Lyon have also had an interest in Gloucester’s George McGuigan, the former England Saxons international.

Luan de Bruin is on the market and looking for a new club next season as his contract with the United Rugby Championship Edinburgh is up at the end of the season.

The Pretoria-born de Bruin, who celebrated his 31st birthday on February 13, spent six years at the Cheetahs before making 17 appearances in a season in the Premiership with Leicester Tigers.

The former South Africa A international moved to Edinburgh in March 2021. He operates at tighthead but has also played at loosehead. He has only played one game this season, last weekend’s victory over  Zebre Parma.

Former England No8 Luke Narraway is said to be weighing up his future at the Dragons after receiving a reduced contract offer from the Welsh rugby.

Narraway has been at Dragons for the past four-and-a-half years, having gained previous coaching experience at Bordeaux and Coventry. He won seven caps for England between 2008 and 2009, as well as playing club rugby for Gloucester, London Irish, Perpignan and Coventry.

Former Cardiff and Dragons player Sam Hobbs, who is currently Dragons academy head coach, would be favourite to replace 40-year-old Narraway if he moves on.

Scotland inside centre Sam Johnson faces an uncertain future with Pro D2 promotion hopefuls Brive, who want to release several non-jiff players this summer in what is likely to amount to an expensive exercise.

The 30-year-old started his career in Super Rugby with Queensland Reds before spending seven years at Glasgow Warriors, enabling him to qualify for Scotland on residency.

Johnson, who has made 13 appearances for Brive this season, only moved to France last summer. He is due to be under contract next season and would need a pay-off.

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Former England U20s tighthead Ciaran Knight could become the latest player to depart from Gloucester this summer as he has been attracting interest from Premiership rivals Harlequins.

Quins are in the market for a tighthead to replace England international Will Collier, who is heading to France where he has joined Castres. The rumours are that Knight is a player they are interested in.

The 25-year-old joined the academy at his hometown club eight years ago, but his only starts this season have come in the Premiership Rugby Cup and a move to the Twickenham Stoop could kick-start his career.

Sharks fly-half Curwin Bosch is rumoured to have emerged as a target for Top 14 strugglers Montpellier at the end of the season. The former Springboks cap has spent eight years with the Sharks, making over 100 appearances in Super Rugby and the URC, but it’s felt his career could benefit from a move.

Montpellier are battling to climb clear of the bottom of the Top 14 and are understood to have Bosch on a list of potential recruits for this summer.

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