Ioane dumps Force for Reds




Force speedster Digby Ioane has changed his mind about an agreement with the Perth side, and signed a stunning deal with the Reds for the next two years.

The winger hails from Queensland, and has cited family reasons for his return to Brisbane to play for the embattled Reds.

It is thought that because of a misunderstanding of the terms of the deal, Ioane agreed to stay with the Force, but when he realised that the Reds’ offer was similar to that of the Force, he opted for the return home.

But his manager, Damien McGregor-Lowndes, denied there was any other factor apart from family reasons.

Angry Force chief executive Peter O’Meara hasn’t given up hope of keeping Ioane, 21, and has scheduled a meeting with him tomorrow to “resolve some issues”, according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has confirmed Ioane is free to link with the Reds as he hasn’t signed a binding contract with the Force, who are now considering legal action.

The ARU has a window period for contractual negotiations, and the Force may have increased their offer to retain Ioane too late – thus meaning the player would opt for the Reds.

“He’s certainly made a legal agreement with the Western Force,” said O’Meara.

“Based on the agreement we have with Digby we let another player go from this organisation and stopped searching for a replacement.

“We have an agreement, one that ranks ahead of any arrangement with Queensland and we will be protecting our legal rights.”

Samoan-bred Ioane, seen as a strong World Cup contender, is the uncle of versatile Reds forward Ole Avei.

“He’s struggled for two years over there being away from family and friends and he’s now come to a realisation four years would be too long,” said McGregor-Lowndes to AAP.

“There’s no agreement with the Western Force.

“He’ll be in Queensland for two years.”

The wrangle comes as the Reds and Force also tussle over Wallabies hooker Stephen Moore in another contract battle that could result in legal action.

The Force want to make a late bid for Moore after losing veteran Test hooker Brendan Cannon to a career-ending neck injury but are prevented from bidding due to the ARU’s strict contracting protocols.

The Force, like in Ioane’s case, have been prevented from lodging or amending an offer for Moore after the mid-March bid deadline.

Although the ARU says it’s determined to maintain the integrity of its contracting protocols and must apply the same rules to all, Moore’s manager Anthony Picone questioned the legality of the process and may take legal advice.

“Stephen hasn’t made up his mind either way but has expressed a desire to listen to what the Force have to offer,” said Piccone.


365 Digital

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