Jones warns of Japanese rugby threat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Jones warns of Japanese rugby threat

By Steve Jancetic and David Beniuk 23/07/2009 07:45:18 PM Comments (0)

Last year's French rugby is this year's Japanese version with former Wallabies coach Eddie Jones claiming he was witnessing a "stampede" of leading NRL players looking for a big money move to Japan.

Speaking in the wake of South Sydney utility Craig Wing's switch to the 15-man game in Japan, Jones - who is in charge of Japanese club side Suntory - said he had been handed the CVs of up to 10 big name league players, including a bona fide NRL superstar.

"It's amazing the number of CVs we're getting from league players at the moment," Jones told Sky Sports Radio.

"There's a real stampede at the moment for guys obviously looking for pretty good deals.

"Over the last two months (I) would have received approaches from at least eight or 10 very, very good league players."

Jones' club has been linked with Brisbane star Karmichael Hunt, but when asked who the players approaching him were, the former coach replied one of them "can play".

"If you had to pick your best team in the NRL, he'd be in it," Jones added.

He denied the Hunt move was a done deal, claiming "the money they're asking for is just ridiculous."

Despite the luring of Wing and the courtship of Hunt - who is off contract at the end of the season - leading player manager Wayne Beavis rejected claims that NRL players were set to head to Japan in droves.

"It's pretty limited with the number of imports they can have and they chase specific sort of players," Beavis said.

"If you've got a player they're looking for at the right time and he ticks all the boxes they come and grab them.

"Other than that, just say you have a player here and he wants to play in Japanese rugby union, it ain't going to happen."

Jones' Japanese threat is eerily similar to the one NRL bosses apparently found themselves facing last year when high profile pair Mark Gasnier and Sonny Bill Williams defected to French rugby on big money deals.

It was claimed their departure would spark a mass exodus, but to date, no more players have joined them and earlier defectors Luke Rooney and Craig Gower.

Wing has joined a second division Japanese side, the standard of which Jones said was "terrible", adding "you're not doing it for anything but the money.

But Wing denied he was switching codes because he was in financial strife.

"I'd really like to clarify that and that's totally false," he said.

"I'm not leaving because I'm financially broke or anything. Yes, I have made a couple of investments over the last couple of years that are taking a while to come to fruition due to the current economic situation.

"I'm in a great position. I've been playing rugby league for 11 years, been earning really good money and financially I'm in a position that's a lot better than pretty much anyone I know that's my age.

"This is just more about a new challenge, new goals, getting away and a new lifestyle."

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