League stars heading for rugby World Cup - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

League stars heading for rugby World Cup

By David Beniuk 18/12/2009 11:16:25 PM Comments (0)

It seems logical. Mark Gasnier completes his contract with Stade Francais in June, signs with a Super rugby side for 2010, plays midweek matches on the Wallabies' spring tour and heads to the 2011 World Cup.

Maybe, maybe not, says Gasnier's former coach in France, Ewen McKenzie.

The new Queensland boss is one of the few Australians to have any idea of how ex-NRL stars Gasnier, Sonny Bill Williams and Craig Gower have faired playing rugby in France, and what chance they are of lining up in New Zealand.

Gasnier is eligible for Australia, Williams for Australia, New Zealand and Samoa and Gower for Italy.

To be considered for the Wallabies, though, Gasnier and Williams would need to be contracted to an Australian Super rugby side for 2011.

For Gasnier that's not a certainty, according to McKenzie.

"I think he'll look at his options, but I don't know what his timeframe is for decision making, I wouldn't imagine he'd make a call until February maybe," McKenzie told AAP on Friday.

"He's still got a long way to go in the French season and he doesn't want to be distracted by all that sort of discussion.

"He could well stay where he is, there's a bunch of options possibly for him in Europe. I think he's enjoying his time in Paris.

"I think all those things are feasible."

Reports have suggested a homesick Gasnier has a return to the NRL and St George Illawarra on his agenda but McKenzie isn't so sure.

"He's not living on his own there, he's got his fiancee there and she speaks French and her family's French so there's a lot of reasons to be where they are," McKenzie said.

"They're in a good part of Paris and have a good lifestyle.

"She's working there so there's a lot of reasons for them to keep doing what they're doing."

Publicity-hungry Melbourne join Super rugby in 2011 with Gasnier an obvious target while McKenzie isn't ruling out anything for a player he says has covered all the outside back positions with aplomb during his time in the sport.

"I've got a good relationship with him, it depends what part sentiment plays in the decision-making process," McKenzie said.

"I'll talk to him, I've kept in touch with him but more on a friendship level than trying to push him into anything.

"He knows where I am and he knows the opportunities that possibly exist in Australia but it's really a question about whether he wants to come back or keep doing what he's doing.

"Only he can make that decision."

McKenzie has seen less of Gower and Williams but he says the former Penrith half, who plays for Bayonne and is Italy's incumbent five-eighth, is a "fait accompli" for the World Cup.

Williams has recently returned for Toulon from a long-term injury lay-off, playing in the club's last four games at outside centre.

The former Bulldog, who represented NZ in league, has previously expressed a desire to be an All Black but is yet to commit to a rugby nation.

He would arguably be more likely to make a Samoan team.

"He might pop up somewhere. I don't know, it depends on his contract," McKenzie said.

"You've got to remember that the Samoans and the Tongans have been very competitive for the last few World Cups and they'll mix it."

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