ACT Brumbies fans could be cheering for the enemy as soon as 2010 with several Test Springboks showing interest in moving to Canberra.
Daniel MacDonald writes in the Canberra Times that Chief executive Andrew Fagan confirmed that at least one Springbok and a number of South African-based Super 14 players have inquired about joining the Brumbies from the end of next season.
The interest has been in response to the ARU’s announcement that it would allow overseas players to turn out for Australian Super 14 clubs.
Franchises are allowed to sign-up just two overseas imports, one of whom can be a “marquee” player. A second developing foreign player, without Test, Sevens or A-team level experience, can also be recruited. These players can stay for three years after which time they will be eligible to play for Australia.
“They range,” Fagan said about the type of player who had shown interest.
“We’ve had a lot from fringe Super 14 players from South Africa and younger players as well as from the [Pacific] Islands.
“But also interest from Super 14 and Test players who via managers had indicated they would be interested in coming across.”
Clubs will find out this week how the overseas players will fit into the payment structure. It has been suggested the marquee players will be exempt from the current restrictions on Australian players. The ARU will oversee the import process.
With their full-time roster already determined for next season, the Brumbies will wait to shop around until next year.
Head coach Andy Friend said he would prefer to buy up-and-comers rather than international stars when they start searching the player catalogue.
Although he remained tight lipped on which players had expressed interest in a move to Australia, Friend said that since the announcement he had received several expressions of interest “from quality players” including one this week from a player complete with a DVD of his own on-field performances.
“That’s only going to increase,” Friend said.
“We’re not actively out there searching the market for players at this point in time however we do have managers from different countries sending information of players across so there’s an interest out there for managers and players.”
More South African players than any other nationality were interested in joining the Brumbies but the former London Harlequins’ coach said he knew of British players also keen to migrate Down Under.
“Rather than the marquee players who play for another country and we can only use for two seasons, our preference would be to avoid that if we can and only pick up one of those players if we generally felt that coming into a season we had a hole that we needed to fill,” Friend said.”What we’ll be targeting is players who can come across here and after three years would be eligible to play for the Wallabies and therefore could stay here for longer than two seasons.”
Friend rated the Brumbies’ brand of rugby as the strongest in Australia and an attraction to lure foreign players to the nation’s capital.
“There’s players I know in the UK who have worked with me and know me … I’ve actually had a couple of them show interest as well. There’s nothing confirmed but we’ll see where it takes us. There are some quality players who have a desire to come out to Australia,” he said.Tweet