Reports from France are linking the All Black with a move
Munster are lining up a move for All Black superstar Ben Smith while Ian Keatley is wanted by Bayonne, according to reports in France.
French rugby paper Midi Olympique are reporting that Munster, along with a number of clubs in France, are hoping to lure New Zealand's Ben Smith to Europe.
Midi says that Ben Smith could earn €1.6m a season in Europe, should he move. Paper says Munster "and several French clubs" are on his tail— gavin mortimer (@gavinmortimer7) December 19, 2016
The Highlanders full-back and national vice-captain is one of the most sought after players in world rugby at the moment, and could easily demand a huge salary.
The New Zealand rugby union are unable to compete with the finances of the European clubs and mostly rely on the esteem of playing for the All Blacks as a huge motivator when hoping for their players to stay at home.
Smith played a crucial role as New Zealand retained their World Cup trophy in 2015.
All Blacks' Ben Smith with Drew Mitchell of Australia
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Aaron Cruden and Israel Dagg are also out of contract next year and have been attracting attention from the northern hemisphere.
There are also reports in the same outlet that Bayonne have their eyes on Ian Keatley. The Irish international has struggled to maintain a place in Munster's starting line-up, with the ever-improving Tyler Bleyendaal directing the team from the out-half position.
Talking of Munster, @midi_olympique says that Ian Keatley "is in the sights" of Bayonne with a move likely in the summer— gavin mortimer (@gavinmortimer7) December 19, 2016
Elsewhere, a survey conducted by Midi has shown that three out of four French people surveyed want the country to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup. France are bidding against Ireland and South Africa to host World Rugby's showpiece event.
74 % des Français favorables à la Coupe du monde 2023 https://t.co/GDnM0lq3Y4— Midi Olympique (@midi_olympique) December 18, 2016