LEINSTER HOPE TO make announcements on one or two new players before the end of the season, after rival provinces Munster and Ulster both confirmed high-profile signings in the last week.

All Black Francis Saili will join Anthony Foley’s Munster next season from the Blues in Super Rugby, while his fellow Kiwi international and Blues back Charles Piutau has signed for Ulster on a big-money two-year contract.

Speaking at Leinster’s UCD training base this afternoon, assistant coach Richie Murphy said that nothing had yet been finalised, but admitted the province are hoping to get a pair of deals over the line in the coming weeks.

“But our squad for next year is very close to being finished, it might be just one or two things to be done towards the end of the season.”

Murphy said there was no clear timeline in mind for tying up any signings, and when asked if the new faces were likely to be from the Southern Hemisphere, the former out-half hinted at one possible deal in that respect.

“They might be… and they might not,” smiled Murphy, “maybe a bit of both. There’s a possibility of maybe one more player from outside coming back in and maybe an Irish-qualified guy as well.”

It is believed that Leinster have looked to re-sign former star Isa Nacewa ahead of next season, although such a deal would likely be on a player/coach basis.

Nacewa is one potential addition for Matt O’Connor’s squad. Source: Colm O’Neill/INPHO

The 32-year-old has been working as the Blues’ mental skills coach in his native New Zealand since retiring from playing in 2013.

The province have previously confirmed the re-signing of Johnny Sexton from Racing Métro.

Leinster assistant Murphy stated that Munster and Ulster’s respective signings of Saili and Piutau were impressive, but indicated that his own province had not been in the running for either of the players.

“Two fantastic signings in fairness, two top-class players,” said Murphy. “I suppose they’ll be delighted to have got them, it’s just not something we’re in the market for at the moment really.”

The transfer market in France is increasingly busy at present, as the wealthy Top 14 clubs look to secure Southern Hemisphere stars on lucrative post-World Cup contracts.

Murphy said the spending power of the French sides will always be a concern, but underlined that Leinster’s approach to recruitment was slightly different to their Gallic rivals’.

“You look at all those top sides in France and their budgets seem to be massive in comparison to ours,” said Murphy. “Obviously the amount of foreign players they have is a lot higher than ours.

“It’s going to be tough, we know that. We’ve managed to compete at this level over the past five or six years when it was similar, but probably not as bad.

Murphy admitted the French clubs’ budgets are impressive. Source: Colm O’Neill/INPHO

“The thing we would probably try to drive is that collective and making sure that the foreign players we bring in are the right players for our environment, that they fit in and that it’s a ‘team first’ sort of mentality.

“Whether you can get that with players coming in from all over the world, I’m not sure. There’s plenty of teams over there that seem to be doing that pretty well.”

Meanwhile, Murphy confirmed that Fergus McFadden is recovering from the “heavy knock” to the head that felled him during Saturday’s Champions Cup win over Bath.

The province expect him to come through the return-to-play concussion protocols, although his participation in the Guinness Pro12 clash with the Dragons on Sunday is in doubt.

Rob Kearney “rolled an ankle” at the Aviva Stadium, but is “reasonably unharmed,” although there are ongoing concerns for Australian lock Kane Douglas.

The former Waratahs man is struggling with a back/hamstring injury at the moment, one which there is uncertainty around in terms of recovery time frame.

“It’s one of those things that could go on for a while but also could clear up within a day or two,” said Murphy. “It’s just a case of ‘wait and see.’ It’s hard to put a finger on how long it will take. We’re monitoring him on a daily basis to see where he gets.”

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