Boks eye ‘exciting’ Melbourne Rebels

England fly-half Danny Cipriani may soon be joined at the Melbourne Rebels by several leading Springboks, according to reports on Saturday.

Cipriani said on Friday he is to quit London side Wasps at the end of the season to play for the newly-formed Melbourne Rebels in the Super 15 competition.

Melbourne, whose head coach is former Wallabies’ World Cup-winning team boss Rod Macqueen, will be allowed by the Australian Rugby Union to recruit up to 10 overseas players in their initial 30-man roster for their 2011 debut season.

Cipriani is the first official signing the Rebels have announced and the news has created interest among prominent Springbok stars Bryan Habana, Jaque Fourie and Schalk Burger, according to the
Sydney Morning Herald.

The trio, who will play for the Western Stormers against the New South Wales Waratahs in the Super 14 in Cape Town on Saturday, has declared an interest in what is happening with the Rebels’

“I think a lot of South Africans will consider playing over at that side,” back-rower Burger told the newspaper. “It’s an exciting prospect.”

Former World Player of the Year Habana, who has joined the Stormers from the Northern Bulls this season, said: “Melbourne is a lot closer to South Africa than France and the language is English.”

Asked if he would consider playing in a different country, the 57-Test winger said: “Definitely. I was going to be playing these next eight months in France when my [Bulls] contract came up for

“Then the Stormers thing came up and, wanting to vie for a place in the 2011 World Cup, it was the right fit.”

Habana, who will be off contract after next season, said the attraction of the Rebels would also depend on their first marquee recruits.

Another player in the Rebels’ sights is former rugby league international centre Mark Gasnier.

The Australian newspaper said Gasnier, whose contract ends at Paris-based Stade Francais in May, has been linked with the Rebels
and fellow Australian Super rugby province Queensland Reds.

The newspaper said both outfits were relying on the Australian Rugby Union to top up their contract offers with Gasnier to make it more lucrative in the face of rival European offers. – AFP


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