CONOR O’SHEA’S HARLEQUINS have confirmed the signing of Wallabies second row James Horwill on a three-year deal that will begin after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Australian rugby fears an exodus of its top international players following the global tournament next year, with Horwill’s decision likely to be the first of several.
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Former Wallabies captain Horwill, 29, is currently contracted to the Queensland Reds, but has agreed to move to the Premiership next season. For ‘Quins head coach O’Shea, the capture of the lock is an important move for the club.
“I’m delighted that we’ve attracted someone of James’ standing in the game to play for us following the completion of the Rugby World Club next year,” said former Ireland international O’Shea.
58-times capped Horwill’s deal to move abroad comes as a blow to the Australian Rugby Union, who would ideally keep its best players on home soil. However, the spending power of clubs in England and France means the ARU are likely to be outmuscled for a number of other players too.
Israel Folau, Quade Cooper, Will Genia and Kurtley Beale are all believed to be priority transfer targets for leading clubs in the Top 14 and Premiership, while the likes of Nick Cummins, Kane Douglas, Drew Mitchell, Digy Ioane, and Sitaleki Timani have already left Australia in recent seasons.
Yesterday, Wallaby wing/centre Adam Ashley-Cooper’s move to Bordeaux following the World Cup was confirmed.
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