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Fissler Confidential: Faf too expensive? Quins line up Sinfield

By Neil Fissler
South Africa's Faf de Klerk at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France (Photo by Christian Liewig/Corbis via Getty Images)

Toulon are still interested in signing England international Zach Mercer despite Gloucester demanding around £1million in compensation before letting him leave Kingsholm.

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Montpellier were rebuffed in a move for the 26-year-old, so they went for Billy Vunipola instead. However, the whispers are that Mercer’s wife Emily flew to France last week.

Fissler Confidential understands that they could be preparing for life without Mercer after giving  Jack Clement – who has become a regular this season and can play anywhere across the back row – a new long-term deal.

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Mike Brown’s Gallagher Premiership young player of the season

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Mike Brown’s Gallagher Premiership young player of the season

European champions La Rochelle have joined the race to take Munster’s Loughborough University-educated outside centre Antoine Frisch back to France for next season.

Fissler Confidential reported last week that Toulon and Montpellier were considering signing the Fontainebleau-born 27-year-old, who still has another year left on his contract with the Irish United Rugby Championship outfit.

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It seems unlikely, however, that the Federation Francaise de Rugby will see their wish for Frisch to move to a French club this summer come true because it would cost a substantial six-figure fee.

Phil Cokanasiga will leave Leicester at the end of the season and will make the switch to the URC after crossing the Severn Bridge to move to Toby Booth’s Ospreys.

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The 22-year-old ex-England U20s centre Cokanasiga joined the Tigers from London Irish in 2022 after loan spells at Rosslyn Park and Esher and has made 20 appearances for Dan McKellar’s side this season.

The younger brother of England international Joe, whose cousin Lagi Tuima has won Red Roses caps, will be moving to the Ospreys on a two-year deal when his Tigers contract ends this summer.

Guy Pepper turned down a lucrative three-year deal to remain at Newcastle next season and will instead head to Gallagher Premiership rivals Bath, as RugbyPass reported in February.

Fissler Confidential understands that the former England U20s openside would have become one of the best-paid youngsters in the Premiership if he had stayed and that money might not have been the motivation behind the move.

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We have been told that he has signed a senior academy contract that will be backloaded to make up the difference after the first season most probably in a move to help Bath stay under the salary cap.

Cardiff has been linked with a move for Gloucester’s Italian international Stephen Varney, but this column understands that there has been no contact between the two parties.

Media reports in Wales suggested that Cardiff had looked into signing the Carmarthen-born 22-year-old, who qualifies for Italy through his mother, but they have decided not to pursue it.

Varney, who played in all five of Italy’s Guinness Six Nations games and started the round five win over Wales, is under contract to the Cherry and Whites next season and is staying at Kingsholm.

Veteran ex-Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy is set to leave Sale when his one-year contract runs out at the end of the season, but it might not mean that he is heading into retirement.

The front-rower, who turned 39 earlier this month and has won over 100 Test caps, could extend his career after regularly playing in the Sharks side this season, but it seems unlikely that he will join another Premiership club.

Instead, there are some whispers he could look for another club in France, where he began his career with Biarritz in 2007 and later saw him service Clermont Auvergne and Montpellier, whom he left 11 years ago.

Faf de Klerk’s CV has been doing the rounds in the Premiership, the URC and the Top 14, but there haven’t been any takers with his nearly £700,000-a-year wage demands.

The 32-year-old, who is a back-to-back Rugby World Cup winner in 2019 and 2023, has attracted interest from Cardiff, while Toulon, Montpellier, Bayonne and Perpignan are all looking for an international-class scrum-half for next season.

However, because nobody has pulled the trigger, he is likely to stay in Japan where the Yokohama Canon Eagles have made him one of the world’s best-paid players, picking up around £900,000 a year.

Harlequins are still in the hunt for England skills coach Kevin Sinfield, who is leaving Steve Borthwick’s coaching team when they return from the summer tour of Japan and New Zealand.

The former Super League ace is being lined up to replace ex-Ireland international Jerry Flannery, who has left the Premiership side to take a coaching job with South Africa, the world champions.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Quins have no plans to replace the director of development, former Fiji and Bath coach Tabai Matson, who they announced will be leaving the Twickenham Stoop at the end of the season.

Scarlets are set to return to the transfer market after a move for a tighthead they had lined up for Parc y Scarlets switch apparently fell through at the last minute.

The Welsh URC outfit had agreed on a contract to land former Australia A international Archer Holz from the Brumbies but they have now sent out a message to agents saying that they were back in the market after the deal had fallen through.

The 24-year-old prop, who came through the ranks at Eastern Suburbs, made two appearances for European champions La Rochelle earlier this season as a World Cup joker.

Henry Slade has admitted that he expects his new contract with Exeter Chiefs to be soon sorted out and is confident he will still be at the club when his current deal ends this summer.

“I’m finalising and sorting a few things, but nothing has been signed yet. We have had some good chats, so hopefully it will be sorted soon. I’m pretty confident I will be here next year,” he said.

“I love playing for the Chiefs. My parents come and watch me every other week, so it’s little things like that that mean a lot to me.”

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Comments

6 Comments
R
Red and White Dynamight 104 days ago

who does Faf think he is, Aaron Smith ? 700k for box kicker pfffft

W
Warren 104 days ago

I find RugbyPass’ editorial tone interesting. Why go with the Faf headline when there is so much other content to focus on? Maybe I’m being overly critical but it seems like this site is fixated with generating clicks at the expense of South Africans. 🤷🏼‍♂️

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