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Digby can complete the Reds puzzle

Jim Morton 08/07/2011 02:43:25 PM Comments (0)

Wing sensation Digby Ioane has admitted it would be tough to leave a family-like Reds outfit for riches overseas in a boost to Queensland's hopes of more Super Rugby success.

While rivals teams have farewelled more than a handful of their starting players this season, Queensland have bucked the trend and are set to keep all their key players beyond the World Cup.

Test flyer Ioane - a key line-breaking weapon in Saturday night's final against the Crusaders - is the last big piece in the puzzle.

The powerful winger has received a $1 million per season offer from a Japanese club but has chosen to wait until the end of the year before deciding his future.

"We'll wait and see after the World Cup," Ioane told AAP. "At the moment I'm just enjoying my footy, and that's probably one of the main reasons why I'm playing good footy, that I'm not worried about what I'm doing next year.

"So I'll leave it to the last minute."

But the 11-Test back, who returned to Queensland from the Western Force in late 2007, said the Reds' success and the players' tight bond was a highly persuasive influence to stay.

"It's a massive turnaround," he said. "I've been at the Reds for four years and have been here at the darkest point when no one was around.

"To see things change it's the best experience I could have in the world."

Apart from the cloud over Ioane, it's understood only back-up halfback Ian Prior (Brumbies) from the Reds' final team won't be at Ballymore next season while reserve three-quarter Will Chambers is still in talks.

In contrast, traditional rivals NSW have farewelled nine players, including Kurtley Beale and Phil Waugh, and the battling Brumbies have said goodbye to 11.

Even the Crusaders, who have the tightest-knit squad in the competition, will see six players from their 22-man final squad exit, including Brad Thorn and Sonny Bill Williams.

Coach Ewen McKenzie's retention efforts are in stark contrast to 2004-09 when a host of home-grown stars defected to interstate teams or left for overseas.

"I said when I came (two years ago) that the two things I wanted to improve here was culture and player retention and recruitment," said McKenzie.

"I think we've done both. We're keeping all the players we want to keep, you don't always.

"These extra games and finals are all going to help to convince (Ioane)."

Hooker Saia Faingaa credited the coach, who is now aiming for prolonged success, for delivering the turnaround both on and off the field.

"We are a big family," he said. "Ewen has brought in a good culture.

"We've had to build our culture from scratch, now we've created our own identity."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

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