Sydney - Wallabies strike weapon Digby Ioane is set to knock back a lucrative
Japanese offer to provide extra thrust to the Reds' Super Rugby title
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie on Thursday said he was preparing as
though Ioane would be on board in 2012 despite cashed-up Kubota offering
a seven-figure deal in Japan.
The destructive world-class winger reportedly gave the
club, which is home to former teammate and friend Hugh McMeniman, a
verbal agreement he would sign a million-dollar-a-season contract.
But the Reds' success and his blockbusting Test form for the Wallabies has convinced the 26-year-old to remain in Australia.
McKenzie remains unsure exactly when Ioane will re-sign
but believes it's just a matter of time before he formalises a deal for a
fifth straight season in the Reds.
"I'm not stressing about it," McKenzie said. "It's been
trickling along for some time but I've been quietly confident the whole
time so it's not something I'm worried about.
"I'm sure he and his management team will sort it out eventually."
With speculation of a move rife, Ioane throughout this season said he'd make his decision after the Rugby World Cup.
His Wallabies selection for the two-match tour of the
United Kingdom later this month is further evidence he will turn down
Kubota's offer, especially with the Japanese season now in full swing.
"It's a good sign," McKenzie said. "The longer there's no
news the better it is because in the end it lines up better with our
season rather than theirs."
Ioane's retention would be an another important plus for
the Reds with grave doubts over former Test wing Peter Hynes' ability
to return from complicated knee surgery.
McKenzie currently has other challenges at the start of pre-season with less than a full starting team of 15 to train.
Ten Reds have been named in the 26-man Wallabies squad
while almost as many are sidelined by injuries, including playmaker
Quade Cooper, or taking leave.
Wallabies backs Anthony Faingaa and Ben Lucas trained at
Ballymore this morning to add to the numbers, but McKenzie is hopeful
the ARU can give access to young home-grown players in the national
"It has been a logistical nightmare," he said.
"We're down to 13 or 14 players which is not quite enough to be able to do anything from a team point of view."
Until this off-season, the Reds had run and organised
their own academy at Ballymore, with those players training with the
But the ARU now runs a national academy that allows all
five Australian Super provinces to call on talented youngsters in times
of injury trouble.
"We're trying to formalise access to those players," McKenzie said.
"Hopefully we can get that up and running in the next three or four weeks."