Ioane to knock back big yen

2011-11-10 08:00
Digby Ioane (AFP)
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 defence.

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 academy.

"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 contracted squad.

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."

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