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ARU Boss O’Neill denies interest in League stars


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The cash-strapped Australian Rugby Union denied Wednesday it was interested in luring league stars Sonny Bill Williams and Mark Gasnier over to the 15-a-side code.

Chief executive John O’Neill said the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), which has previously poached league stars such as Lote Tuqiri and Wendell Sailor, was more interested in youth development than big-name signings.

O’Neill denied the ARU’s lack of interest stemmed from the 8.4 million dollar (8.1 million US) loss it posted in 2007.

“We’re just not interested in them, full stop,” O’Neill told reporters.

“It’s not about affordability. It’s about concentrating our own investment dollars in our own backyard.”


Williams has expressed interest in playing for the All Blacks, meaning he would more likely be a target for the New Zealand Rugby Union, while Gasnier is believed to be considering playing club rugby in France.

O’Neill said the ARU was more likely to raid Australian rugby league’s new under-20s competition than chase established stars.

“I think the earlier you can pick up talent … where the skills in rugby league and rugby union are very similar, we’re moving away from that top end of the market and concentrating on getting in a bit earlier,” he said.


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