Waratahs and Reds fight over Elsom - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Waratahs and Reds fight over Elsom

By Jim Morton 28/02/2009 02:36:12 PM Comments (0)

NSW have a fight on their hands to regain Wallabies enforcer Rocky Elsom with arch-rivals Queensland sizing him up for a Reds jersey.

And in what would rub salt into Waratahs wounds if Elsom opts to return to the state where he began his rugby, the Ireland-based Test flanker could immediately line up against NSW in a July interstate match.

The Queensland and NSW state unions are currently negotiating with the ARU to stage a return Templeton Cup clash on July 5, in the middle of a four-week international hiatus for the Wallabies.

A second 2009 interstate clash, following this Friday night's grudge match at the Sydney Football Stadium, hinges on Test coach Robbie Deans' support in releasing the Reds and Waratahs Wallabies.

Elsom, who has announced he will return from Irish club Leinster in late May to play for Australia, would be among about 15-20 Reds and Waratahs expected to be in Deans' 30-man squad heading into the Tri-Nations, which kicks off on July 19.

QRU high-performance manager Ben Whitaker has been speaking with the 26-year-old who also has current links to Brisbane where his girlfriend studies.

"Rocky is a Queenslander and went to school here at Nudgee College so we're definitely interested in him for sure," Reds coach Phil Mooney said on Saturday.

The mere thought of possibly losing the star of their 2008 march to the Super 14 final, would rankle Waratahs fans and officials.

Although he played his junior rugby in Queensland, Elsom started his 40-Test senior rugby career with NSW after an unproductive stint in league with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

QRU chief executive Ken Freer will meet his NSW counterpart Jim L'Estrange before Friday's Super 14 grudge match to nut out further details of the proposed crowd-puller.

Both unions are happy to play the return game in Sydney on a revenue-sharing basis, and see a definite opening after Australia's final in-bound domestic Test against France on June 27.

"I want to kick-start a proper Templeton Cup series again, preferably three games," Freer said.

"We won't be able to do that this year but an extra game will help (both unions) financially.

"We've put our case to Robbie Deans as well because if we get this up and running we will want the best teams out on the pitch as possible."

Deans isn't known to be a coach who "cotton wools" his troops, preferring to see them play rather than train when off-duty mid-season but would be excused for holding some concerns with interstate battles traditionally fiery affairs.

Unbeaten NSW will head into next Friday's round four clash as favourites with Queensland needing to overcome the Cheetahs in Brisbane on Sunday for their first win of the season.

"NSW is a big game and important for us but tomorrow is paramount and we have to prove to everyone we're a willing team and ready," said Reds skipper Berrick Barnes.

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