Rebels claim Phipps as well as Beale - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Rebels claim Phipps as well as Beale

By Melissa Woods And Russell Jackson 14/04/2011 06:28:50 PM Comments (0)

Melbourne are proving a force to be reckoned with on and off the Super rugby field after trumping NSW to add emerging halfback Nick Phipps to the prized signature of Wallaby star Kurtley Beale.

There had been whispers that the impressive Phipps was in the Waratahs' sights as a replacement for France-bound Wallabies half Luke Burgess, however, the Rebels announced on Thursday that Phipps, as well as promising lock Hugh Pyle, had extended their contracts with Melbourne.

Phipps went on Australia's European tour last year, although he didn't win a Test cap, while Melbourne coach Rod Macqueen touted Pyle, also 22, as a Wallaby in waiting.

Beale's two-year deal is reportedly worth up to $1 million a year and NSW coach Chris Hickey said that while he didn't know the exact figure, the Waratahs had a strict policy when it came to player payments and they were happy to stick with it.

"We're about trying to build a squad here, it's not about any one individual player, it's about being financially responsible and we've got a salary cap that we need to operate in, so that's the playing field that we work on," Hickey said.

Melbourne chief executive Ross Oakley said such numbers were laughable.

He said Beale's desire to broaden his involvement and become an indigenous ambassador was a good fit with the club's off-field engagement program.

"The figures bandied about in the press are ridiculous," Oakley said.

"This gentlemen has come here ... for all the right reasons.

"It's not about money and Rod's made that very clear.

"The players who are with us aren't here for the money, it's more about what the club can offer them in a broader sense."

Macqueen didn't want to start a war of words with NSW over snaring the duo.

"I don't want to get into a situation between us and the Waratahs," said Macqueen, whose side has won three matches in their debut season.

"From my point of view Nick's always been with us ... I see him as future leadership material.

"He's very much part of the side and is going to be great for us in years to come."

Fellow Wallaby James O'Connor - Beale's good friend - is also off-contract but Macqueen said it wasn't fait accompli the Rebels would offer him a deal.

"It's more about whether this club is the right fit for him and whether he's the right fit for us," Macqueen said.

Beale, who has 51 NSW caps, made an emotional address to his teammates on Thursday and Drew Mitchell said they backed his decision, and hoped it cleared his mind so he could concentrate on playing rugby.

"My initial reaction for him was that I was happy for him because he was able to make the decision and can now worry about the task at hand," Mitchell said.

"I don't know the exact details of his contract but I know he's excited about the opportunity to go down there and have a fresh start."

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