Vodacom Super 14

Lauaki set for French move

2010-04-28 09:25
Heading to France? (File)
Wellington  - Former All Black and serial transgressor Sione Lauaki won't be the New Zealand Rugby Union's headache for much longer, with French media reporting the Chiefs No 8 is close to agreeing to a deal to join Clermont.

According to Rugby Heaven correspondent Marc Hinton, Lauaki's agent Bruce Sharrock has been on the hunt for a new job for his client for a while now, and if French reports are true he's set to take his volatile game - and personality - to the Top 14.

He's also had offers on the table from Japan and the UK, but it's understood the Clermont deal is a compelling one for the 28-year-old blockbusting No 8.

Lauaki has 20 Test caps and at his best is one of the most destructive No 8s in the game. But his high error-rate and questionable decision-making never really endeared him to the All Blacks coaches and he hasn't played for New Zealand since 2008.

If the deal pans out Lauaki will join up with some familiar faces at Clermont. The successful club is coached by Kiwi Vern Cotter and also includes a former team-mate of Lauaki's, ex-Chiefs flyhalf Tasesa Lavea.

It's understood the club have been seeking some assurances on Lauaki's fitness, and once they're completed will confirm the signing.

Lauaki comes off contract with the NZRU at the end of the Super 14 and will join Clermont in time for the start of the next northern season if they agree final terms.

It has not been a successful final campaign with the Chiefs though, with the side struggling badly and Lauaki dogged by injury and controversy throughout.

He was suspended once by SANZAR for an illegal tackle, then had to sit out another game after ending up before the courts in Hamilton for a late-night incident in a city bar - not his first such transgression. Now he's awaiting the result of blood tests after crashing his car while driving on his own between Hamilton and Auckland in the early hours of Saturday morning. No other car was involved.

Sharrock put out a statement saying it appeared "Sione fell asleep at the wheel". He also said Lauaki had had "a couple of drinks" following the Chiefs' 25-25 draw with the Cheetahs, but that his hospital discharge sheet showed his blood alcohol readings were "well below the legal limit".

Police are saying they are still awaiting the results of blood tests taken at the scene.

Lauaki suffered bruising to his arm in the accident, and is not expected to be included in the Chiefs team to visit the Hurricanes this weekend. He was a reserve for last week's clash against the Cheetahs.

He is also on a "final warning" with the NZRU after being severely censured for the incident in the Hamilton bar earlier this year.

Read more on:    super 14  |  chiefs

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