Gasnier returning home to tie the knot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gasnier returning home to tie the knot

By Melissa Woods 08/01/2010 05:36:05 PM Comments (0)

France-based former NRL star Mark Gasnier is about to return to Australia to say 'I do', but only to his fiancee and not to playing in Australia after delaying a decision on his rugby future.

Late last year, Gasnier, who quit the NRL in 2008, announced he would make a decision in January about his career, after declaring his desire to play in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

In order to be selected for the Wallabies, he must be playing in Australia, meaning a switch from the Stade Francais club in Paris to Super rugby is a necessity.

The former St George Illawarra skipper and NSW and Test representative is certain to be a top target for the new Melbourne Super franchise, whose ownership was finally settled this week.

But Gasnier's manager George Mimis said the centre would hold off on making a decision until March.

And although the 28-year-old will be back in Australia later this month, it will be for his wedding to French fiancee Claudine Bonnechere rather than rugby discussions.

"It's obviously quite public knowledge that he's off contract at about June this year and we're reticent to comment publicly on any discussions," said Mimis.

"Hopefully by the end of quarter one (March), we'll be in the position to do so.

"We've moved the goal-posts on the January date."

Mimis said Gasnier wanted to play rugby at the highest standard if he returned to Australia.

"I think it's fair to say that Mark has a burning desire to succeed at the highest level in whatever sport he's playing in.

"If you pose the question to him is he interested in being a Wallaby, I'm sure it would be an emphatic yes, however there are commercial realities to consider .. and that's what we're doing."

Gasnier reportedly signed a STG300,000 ($A521,000) per year deal when he made his shock code switch, with the Australian Rugby Union unable to match that money.

High Performance Unit General Manager David Nucifora said the ARU had been in contact with Gasnier, although it was premature to say they had had contract negotiations.

"If a player like Mark wanted to come home, we'd be very happy to see him come home and continue his rugby career here, he's certainly got our support from the rugby side of things," Nucifora said.

"We'd like to see him come back to be in with Melbourne or one of the other Super rugby teams."

Out of the picture this year due to his French rugby commitments, Gasnier would only have the expanded 2011 Super competition, which is Melbourne's inaugural year, to impress Wallaby selectors.

"I'm sure he's looking at the opportunities that exist here for him and that's where players, be it Mark or anyone else, have got to decide whether they're going to back themselves to be good enough to make it," Nucifora said.

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