McAlister nearly sold on Sale



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Luke McAlister has denied media reports that he is on his way to Sale Sharks in the Guinness Premiership, but it is only a matter of time before he heads north.

A report in England’s Times newspaper said on Wednesday that McAlister had agreed a deal worth some ‘250,000 ($480,000) a year, and that his father Charlie would accompany him, joining Sale in a coaching capacity.

McAlister faced more questions over the report than about Saturday’s Tri-Nations game against South Africa on Wednesday, and said he was more likely to go to England than not.

“That’s not true,” said McAlister to reporters when asked if he had signed for Sale.

“I’m seriously considering Sale, seriously considering it.”

“I haven’t made a decision on what I’m doing which I’ll make in the next couple of weeks. I’m sure you guys will be first to know when I do make the decision,” he added.

Toulouse also made an offer for McAlister – again, confirmed by the player himself – but his reasons for opting for Manchester were purely personal as he spent ten years there growing up.

“I don’t want to go there. To France, or that club,” he said.

“Sale was more appealing. The language is a big thing. And the fact I’ve been to Manchester before helps.”

“I suppose you could say I’m keen, yeah. I’m pretty familiar with the area, so that’s a positive,” he said.

“(But) I haven’t made a decision on whether I’m staying or going.

“It’s not about the money, the money’s good, but there’s also the life experience to consider. That will be the main thing.

“I would be going into the unknown, and that’s a challenge I’d like to take up.”

McAlister is still young enough at 23 to spend time in England – his contract is thought to be a two-year offer – and then return to New Zealand and play his way into the team ahead of Rugby World Cup 2011.

Graham Henry has made no secret either of the fact that McAlister is viewed as New Zealand’s heir apparent to the number twelve shirt, or that he would much prefer McAlister not to head north.

The move may even jeopardise McAlister’s chances of playing at the 2011 tournament, but he remained confident as he seemingly prepared to leave.

“I’ll have to take my chances, like everybody else,” he added.


365 Digital

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