Tahs coach plays down Gasnier link - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Tahs coach plays down Gasnier link

By Sebastian Hassett 27/03/2006 08:53:56 PM Comments (0)

He may be the most talked about potential rugby recruit this year but NSW coach Ewen McKenzie insists he hasn't said boo to St George league star Mark Gasnier.

"I haven't spoken to him, I haven't spoken to his manager, haven't expressed an interest, haven't offered a contract, haven't done anything," McKenzie said on Monday.

"All I've done is read the comments in the paper."

Centre Gasnier is expected to make a decision about his sporting future in the next three weeks with speculation growing that he will sign an Australian Rugby Union backed contract worth as much $750,000 a year to switch codes.

And if the deal is made, the Sydney-based Gasnier is almost certain to link with the Waratahs.

McKenzie said he was impressed with the midfielder's play but that was as far as it went at this stage.

"I think he'd make a good rugby player, but I haven't spoken to him," McKenzie said.

"I never say never on these things.

"As everyone knows, we've put our hat into the ring with guys like (Brumbies utility back Matt) Giteau, but we don't actually need to recruit a lot of players."

McKenzie also rejected claims that the Waratahs received special treatment from the ARU who have to top up the basic state contracts to acquire high profile league players.

With the majority of league players based in NSW and the Waratahs currently the strongest of the Australian Super 14 franchises, most footballers who have expressed interest in swapping codes want to be in Sydney, following the likes of Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers across.

This has earned the ire of other provinces who see the ARU's money getting spent on better players for NSW.

"Our money is the same as every other province, it gets equally distributed, so if the money is the same, it must be the city," McKenzie said in reference to what the state pays for players.

"Maybe it's the rugby program, maybe because the team's winning some games its become more attractive, it's got to be one or a combination of those things."

McKenzie admitted he was still waiting to hear more from Giteau's management, with the Brumbies centre weighing up the option of joining the Waratahs or staying put in the capital.

"We'll see what happens, but if Giteau decides to stay in Canberra, then I don't close my mind to any option, and there's lots of players out there," McKenzie said.

The Waratahs will play the Cheetahs this Friday at Aussie Stadium, with the South African newcomers doing better than many pundits expected, sitting just one win outside the top four with a game in hand.

"They've got a very good tactical appreciation of the kicking game, they can play with width and I thought their mauling game (last week) was outstanding," McKenzie said.

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