British & Irish Lions hero Leigh Halfpenny won’t be heading to Racing Metro this summer according to the French club’s president.
The HSBC Player of the Series from the recent tour of Hong Kong and Australia has been in high demand following his stunning showing for Britain and Ireland’s elite.
Halfpenny has been linked with a host of clubs in the Top 14, with European Champions Toulon, Heineken Cup runners up Clermont Auvergne and free-spending Racing all thought to be keen to acquire his services.
The 24-year-old has just one year to run on his current contract with Cardiff Blues but Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti insists his side aren’t attempting to make the Welsh region and their star full back an offer neither can refuse, despite the Rugby Paper suggesting Halfpenny’s agent had already met with Racing representatives.
"Racing Metro 92, through its president Jacky Lorenzetti, wishes to deny this information. The club is not one of the proposed bidding agents," read a statement from the Parisians, who have already added Lions Test stars Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Sexton to their ranks for next term.
Lorenzetti’s denial that talks have taken place between the two parties doesn’t mean Halfpenny’s future is any clearer, however, with Blues chief executive Richard Holland having previously admitted that the Cardiff Arms Park side will struggle to compete with the wages on offer overseas.
Holland is understandably keen to keep his best players in the Welsh capital and is hopeful that a Welsh Rugby Union backed offer, together with the benefits of being based at home rather than abroad when it comes to international selection, will be enough to persuade Halfpenny to remain with Sam Warburton and co in Cardiff.
"We haven't got three-quarters of a million to put on the table, or half a million," Holland told the Rugby Paper.
"I will be honest with his representatives and tell them what we can afford. There has to be a realisation that we can only afford so much.
"All I can do is put forward something which is competitive and we are confident we can broker a deal to keep Leigh at the Blues. The WRU has made additional funds available."