Canberra - Brumbies coach Jake White believes he has started securing "the future" of the club by re-signing five of his young stars.
The Brumbies will announce on Wednesday that Christian
Lealiifano, Matt Toomua, Henry Speight, Ruaidhri Murphy and Scott Sio
have all signed two-year contract extensions.
The club is also hoping to finalise the contracts of at least two other players in the coming days.
White now has most of his squad locked away until at least the end of next season.
He said being able to get the players to commit was evidence the revamped Brumbies were moving in the right direction.
"I said to them I want to plan for the future and I'd
rather find out now whether they're in or they're out," White said. "If
they weren't going to stay I needed to find someone else.
"It's in line with what I've been saying, I want to keep
this squad together. The fact they have all re-signed sends the right
message because it means they're happy with how they're going."
Lealiifano had strong interest from the Melbourne Rebels
but he has decided to remain with the club that gave him his Super Rugby
Toomua was negotiating his contract before he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament three weeks ago.
Despite knowing his playmaker will be out of action for the next nine months, White was keen to re-sign the 22-year-old.
"I am going to do whatever I can to make him right for
February next year," White said. "If that means that I allow him to go
and play some rugby in November, December and January then I will look
at those options to be fair to him. That could be New Zealand, South
Africa or wherever I can find a place, I'll use my contacts to try to
help him get some game time."
New deals for Speight and Murphy mean they will be
eligible to play for the Wallabies the time they're ready to sign new
contracts. They currently fill the two foreign player spots on the
Brumbies roster, but Speight will be eligible to represent Australia at
the end of next year while Murphy will have to wait until 2014.
Murphy has Australian citizenship but the IRB has refused
to classify him as an Australian player because of its strict policies.
The biggest surprise in the Brumbies' re-signings is prop Sio.
The 20-year-old is currently in the Brumbies' extender
player squad, but has impressed White enough to win an upgrade for next
He will join the main squad as a replacement for Jono Owen.
"Scott is the way forward for the Brumbies," White said.
"He can play both sides of the scrum, he comes from a good pedigree and
I'm over the moon a guy like him wants to commit here."