Rebels fight for overseas deal

2012-04-11 07:49

Melbourne - The Melbourne Rebels and the Australian Rugby Union are at loggerheads as to who the Super Rugby franchise can recruit to ease its front-row crisis.

The ARU has told the Rebels they must look to local ranks to solve their problems at tight-head prop, but the Rebels in turn have refused to rule out recruiting a foreign player and have invited New Zealander Arden David-Perrot to trial for a short-term contract.

The Rebels had planned to choose between David-Perrot, who plays for Wellington in the New Zealand competition, and young Western Australian Oliver Hoskins, who is an Australian under-20s training squad member, after today's training session.

But the ARU has signalled it would not approve David-Perrot's selection, with ARU high-performance general manager David Nucifora saying there were clear regulations on foreign players, to protect and develop Australian talent.

The Rebels have been forced to scour rugby ranks for tight-head props after Laurie Weeks suffered a dislocated shoulder during the 34-23 win over the Blues last Thursday. Former Wallaby Rodney Blake can play both sides of the scrum and will start against the Brumbies on Saturday but the problems for the Rebels would start if Blake got injured.

The Rebels third tighthead prop, emerging talent Paul Alo-Emile, has been sidelined with an ankle injury since the first pre-season trial. Without a recognised tight-head prop, the Rebels could be forced into uncontested scrums against the Brumbies.

Rebels CEO Steve Boland denied ARU rules stipulated the replacement must be from Australian ranks. ''If they can send me a copy of where it says that I'll greatly appreciate it,'' Boland said.

''We're having ongoing discussions about the eligibility of the players in this circumstance because the regulations are not clear … we had a conversation with the ARU over the weekend and we had another [yesterday]Tuesday. Those discussions are not over.''

Nucifora said the Australian governing body's stance had been made clear to Boland. ''I'm not quite sure what's caused the confusion,'' Nucifora said. ''If we opened up the playing ranks without a tight set of protocals, then Australian rugby is potentially in a lot of trouble in a very short period of time.

''We have to be developing our own Australian eligible players to become Wallabies, so rules are there for a very good reason.''

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