Jones looks to sign Nicholas in Super 14 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jones looks to sign Nicholas in Super 14

By Laine Clark 19/12/2006 06:23:03 PM Comments (0)

Signing Lote Tuqiri may be at the top of his Christmas wish list but Reds coach Eddie Jones will have another player in his sights when he jets out of Queensland this week.

Buoyed by positive talks with the in demand Tuqiri, Jones will fly out for Japan on Friday in a bid to lock in ex-Highlanders and NZ Maori utility back Ryan Nicholas for the 2007 Super 14 season.

Nicholas, presently playing with Japanese side Suntory, has already agreed to join the Reds next year but the deal is in jeopardy due to what Jones calls "complications".

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Nicholas, Jones is already in a festive mood thanks to initial talks with Wallaby star Tuqiri.

Tuqiri, 27, has given himself until January to decide whether he will stay with rugby after the 2007 World Cup or return to rugby league.

The Australian Rugby Union has tabled an offer to Tuqiri, reportedly worth $1 million a season, to keep him in the code until the end of 2011.

However, up to six NRL clubs are believed to be interested in the dual international including his former club Brisbane.

But former Wallaby coach Jones says he has already spoken to his former national team charge about moving from the NSW Waratahs to the Reds.

Jones left the conversation believing the Fijian-born flyer's Queensland connection gave the Reds an "advantage" if Tuqiri stayed with rugby.

Both Tuqiri and his wife Rebekka are from Queensland and want to be closer to their families now that they have a young son, Samson.

"He probably wants to raise his family in Queensland so that's an advantage for us," Jones said.

"I obviously had a reasonable association with Lote at the Wallaby level, I like him as a player and he is a good player.

"He's a Queensland boy and as I've always said one of our targets is to get back as many Queensland boys into our side - and he's one of them."

While Tuqiri said he would speak with all interested NRL suitors, he would have to take a big pay cut to play league.

Meanwhile, Jones joined 1991 World Cup winning Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer in expressing surprise over the omission of league convert Clinton Schifcofske from the recently announced 47-man Australian training squad for the 2007 World Cup in France.

The Reds recruit and former NRL star has only played two games since switching codes but has already convinced Jones that he is a budding Wallaby.

Schifcofske was impressive for the World XV in its 32-7 loss to South Africa at Leicester earlier this month.

"I think Clinton has shown enough in the game for the World XV against South Africa to indicate that he is in the top 45 players in Australia," Jones said.

In other news, Jones laughed off English media speculation linking him with the new Wales elite director of rugby role.

A London Daily Telegraph report said the Welsh Rugby Union would "scour the world" to fill the position and threw Jones up as a possible candidate.

"I've been associated with Fiji, Samoa, Japan, England and now Wales - I'm running out of countries," Jones laughed.

"I was invited to interview for the director job in England and declined it because I want to coach, so I am not interested in any director job."

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