MUNSTER prop Timmy Ryan looks poised to follow Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi to French Top 14 club, Toulon this summer.
Ryan, who’ll turn 25 in June, hit the headlines earlier this season for his barnstorming first-half performance against the All Blacks last November.
The tight-head was on a development contract with Munster but, since that outing against New Zealand, the Cork man has made just four more appearances as a replacement. However, he proved an important cog in Cork Con’s rise to the top of the AIB League in the regulation season.
Ryan took up rugby at a young age with Highfield, was capped at Ireland Youth level in 2002 as a Number 8 and played in that position at the U-19 World Championships in Paris in 2003. He moved to the front row in 2004.
His brother, Academy member Dave Ryan, also a prop, is expected to be upgraded to a development contract by Tony McGahan this summer.
Ryan’s proposed move will send him to one of rugby’s glamour clubs on the south-east coast of France.
Toulon’s wealthy owner, Mourad Boudjellal, who made his millions in the comic-strip business, has been frustrated at the lack of progress of the club this season.
Earlier this season, Boudjellal hired former Springbok coach Jake White as a consultant to advise as to the way forward. One of the key recommendations was for a director of rugby to be appointed above the coach, currently former All Black captain Tana Umaga.
Philippe Saint-Andre takes the reins as director of rugby this summer, and Ryan could be amongst some exalted company in pre-season: Pierre Mignoni joins from Clermont Auvergne, hooker Sebastien Bruno follows Saint-Andre from Sale while Jonny Wilkinson is also considering an offer. Jerry Collins, Johann Van Niekierk, Sonny Bill Williams are also on the books there.
Meanwhile, Frankie Sheahan could be set for a move to Top 14 club, Brive.
The multi-capped Munster hooker, out of contract at the end of this season, travelled to watch Brive take on Montauban last weekend. The French club, which has England’s Andy Goode and Steve Thompson on its books, are believed to be keen to sign Sheahan on a two-year deal.
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