Wallaby exodus underway
TRANSFER NEWS: The first batch of Wallabies set to depart after the World Cup has been confirmed.
Wallaby pair Nick Phipps and Curtis Rona have inked two-year deals with RFU Championship club London Irish.
“It was a really tough decision to make the move away from New South Wales,” “the 30-year-old Phipps said.
“I’ve loved my time in the sky blue jersey and I’ve got so much pride for the teams I’ve been lucky enough to represent, from schoolboys to club as well as for the State and the Wallabies.
“It’s a really big year ahead with the NSW Waratahs and the Wallabies though, so I’m solely focused on throwing everything I’ve got into this Super Rugby season.”
“I’ll take some amazing memories with me but I felt that the time was right for my family and I to make the move overseas to try a different playing style and immerse ourselves into a different culture.
Since his international debut in 2011, Phipps has played second fiddle to long-serving Wallabies teammate Will Genia, starting just 29 of his 71 test appearances.
He has, however, been a mainstay in the Waratahs’ set-up since joining from the Melbourne Rebels in their title-winning season in 2014, amassing 74 of his 121 Super Rugby caps with the New South Wales club.
Phipps should still be available in Wallabies contention while in England due to Australia’s overseas selection policy, whereby players with more than 60 test caps are still available to be picked.
The same cannot be said for Rugby League convert Rona, who has won just three test caps since his debut against New Zealand in 2017.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old said he remains focused on his Super Rugby duties for the upcoming season.
“I am excited about the season ahead because I know what we are capable of,” he said.
“I cannot wait for our first competition game and see a full house at Brookvale Oval.
“I feel I am a better player from when I first started, I have learnt a lot but I am at a stage of my career where I have been offered the opportunity to take my young family to a new environment.”
London Irish currently sit atop of the RFU Championship standings with 12 wins from 13 matches and look on track to earn promotion into the Premiership for the 2019/20 season.
NSW Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said Phipps was a respected leader in the team and Rona has grown as a player
“Nick has been a loyal servant of the game and he has made an immense contribution to rugby in the State. He is a leader in our environment and someone who has tremendous pride in representing NSW,” Gibson said.
“Curtis is a player who is also eager to learn and he has grown tremendously. He offers a team versatility and will continue to learn more as his career progresses. Both players go with our best wishes as they embark on the next chapter of their careers and experience for their families,” Gibson added.