Rebels rugby club eyes an AFL defector - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rebels rugby club eyes an AFL defector

By Guy Hand 13/01/2010 05:29:39 PM Comments (0)

The Melbourne Rebels haven't ruled out the prospect of luring an AFL player to cross codes to rugby but won't be going out of their way to do so just for publicity.

New Rebels coach Rod Macqueen said the right AFL player could be a welcome addition to his fledgling Super 15 side when they join the competition next year.

But he and club chairman Harold Mitchell have ruled out any cross-code signing as an attention-seeking exercise in AFL-mad Melbourne, saying any player lured would have to be able to hold his own in rugby.

"If I could find someone who tackles, yeah," Macqueen said of the possibility of signing an AFL player, only half-jokingly after his appointment on Wednesday to the Rebels' top job.

"Certainly there's a lot of skills in AFL. There's obviously a big difference between the two games but there's no reason they can't (cross codes from AFL to union).

"There's many players that have crossed codes (between union and league). Rugby is a game for all shapes and sizes."

Mitchell, who has made his fortune as Australia's biggest media advertising buyer, said getting a big-name player to lift the club's profile in the marketplace was something he did not believe the Rebels would need.

New AFL club Gold Coast poached Test rugby league star Karmichael Hunt in a shock move which put the club well and truly on the sporting map without having even kicked a ball.

But Mitchell pointed to the support for rugby Tests held in Melbourne as proof there is a ready-made market for the game.

"I've been amazed, fascinated and delighted of the response of this city to sports generally and to rugby," Mitchell said.

"We've had 10 or 11 major rugby games in the past decade here and the crowd has been an average of just on 50,000 so there's a support for (rugby) there.

"That says a lot about what rugby is, rather than anything to do with just one individual."

One thing Macqueen did emphatically rule out was any wholesale player plunder of rugby league's Melbourne Storm.

Ex-Storm chief executive Brian Waldron has been appointed CEO of the Rebels and comes with an intimate knowledge of the contracts of some of rugby league's best players.

But Macqueen said his organisation would rather work alongside the Storm and hoped to have a good working relationship with the cross-code rivals.

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