Ioane may follow Barnes to the Waratahs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ioane may follow Barnes to the Waratahs

30/07/2009 11:27:12 PM Comments (0)

After another day of drama, the reeling Queensland Reds are braced for another gut-wrenching Super 14 defection with strike weapon Digby Ioane admitting he could follow Berrick Barnes to the NSW Waratahs.

Ioane indicated all bets were off on Thursday just an hour after Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Ken Freer announced his resignation.

The powerful three-quarter, who had a handshake deal with Freer to stay at Ballymore, could opt to follow playmaker Barnes south next week.

While he was keen to stick with the Super 14 battlers, Ioane told AAP that Barnes' surprise decision put a new light on his prolonged contract negotiations.

The injured Wallabies flyer, worried the Reds backline would be affected by Barnes' departure, said he would "weigh up" his future again this weekend.

"I said to the Reds that I would stay but there's been a big pause in the middle (of the contract process) before Berrick going," he said.

"I want to make the right decision for my future.

"That's the hard thing now that Berrick has gone.

"I just have to do what's the best thing for my rugby.

"I thought Berrick was going to stay but I guess he wasn't happy.

"I just need a bit of time to think over the whole thing."

Barnes' one-year deal with the Waratahs, with an option for 2011, puts him squarely in the picture to sign with the new Super 15 franchise, expected to be from Melbourne.

Victorian-raised Ioane has been targeted by the Melbourne teams but he played down thoughts of a return home.

"It's a new team again and you have to think about we're you can play your best footy," he said.

Ioane's move back to square one has kicked Reds officials while they are sprawled on the deck.

The Reds, who have also lost Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman, started the week believing both Barnes and Ioane, their two best backs this season when they finished second last, were virtually in the bag through to the 2011 World Cup.

"We're doing as much as we can but (Ioane) has intimated to me that he's staying here," said Reds general manager Daniel Herbert.

"But until we sign the contract there's the chance he won't, so we've got to be prepared I suppose."

QRU chairman Peter Lewis dismissed speculation Freer had been sacked and also denied persistent rumours former CEO and coach Jeff Miller and Wallabies great Tim Horan were being viewed as replacements.

Freer, who said he decided before this month to finish his three-year stint this year, will continue in his position until October.

"Ken took this decision months ago and by agreement we wouldn't say anything until the season was well and truly over and the review was over," Lewis said.

"There was absolutely no rush, he's kindly agreed to stay on.

"We're not sacking him, we're not rushing him out the door.

"He just feels it's time to move on."

Things went from bad to worse for the Reds late on Thursday with Lewis advising the QRU board of his decision to resign as a director and chairman, effective Friday.

Lewis told the board he was concerned that recent adverse publicity over his business affairs could cause collateral damage to Queensland Rugby if he was to remain on the board.

His decision comes in the wake of his resignation last week as deputy chairman of Trinity, the property group which has been hit by the costly walkout of key executives.

"My decision has been taken in the best interests of Queensland Rugby, to protect the organisation from any fallout that may result from the recent adverse publicity concerning my company, Trinity," Lewis said in a statement.

Queensland businessman Steve Wilson was installed as the acting chairman.

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