French link as Ioane saga drags on
Fri, 26 Apr 2013 09:41
You know my motto: Never say never
Wallabies wing Digby Ioane is close to signing with French club Stade Francais following a contractual dispute with the Queensland Reds, reports said Friday.
Ioane, 27, who has played 34 Tests for the Wallabies, has given the Reds notice that he will not be taking up his option with the Super Rugby team next year, The Australian said.
"Ioane is close to signing with Stade Francais, although Toulouse is also in the running," the newspaper said.
The Australian said that Ioane would have considered offers from other Australian Super Rugby teams but he has a separate agreement with the Reds that if he played in Australia next year, it would be only with Queensland.
However, the newspaper said relations between Ioane and the Reds had broken down over the handling of a dispute about a third-party payment and the player's conduct.
Ioane was disciplined and dropped from a Super 15 match last month following an incident at a pub in Melbourne.
Should he sign with an overseas club for several seasons he may not be available for Wallabies' selection for the 2015 World Cup in England.
The Australian Rugby Union has rules in place blocking Wallaby team selection for overseas contracted players.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said he hopes Ioane will still end up playing for the Reds next season.
"You know my motto: Never say never," McKenzie said. "We'll just see. Until there's pen on paper, it's never say never for me.
"I have no trouble working with Digby," he added. "We've always got on well together.
"The issue is being handled by the front office. The football department is not getting involved, so it is business as usual as far as we are concerned."
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