Brumbies poised for New Zealand switch
July 17, 2000

Fringe Super 12 rugby players Simon Ross and Graeme Bond are expected to join their ACT Brumbies team mate Mitch Hardy in playing in New Zealand this year.

Brumbies coach Eddie Jones confirmed today that negotiations are underway for the trio to sign short-term contracts for the upcoming national provincial championship (NPC) first division campaign.

Winger Hardy is tipped to join Northland, centre Bond is talking with Southland and 23-year-old prop Ross is looking to join Waikato. Jones has encouraged the players to compete in the high-quality NPC to prepare them for next season's rugged Super 12 competition.

"Because we've got such a short footy season over here this year (because of the Sydney Olympics), some of the guys who didn't play a lot in the Super 12 have only had about five or six games of club rugby," Jones said.

"This is an ideal opportunity for them to play some top-class rugby."

Jones was confident that the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will release the players from their contracts to allow them to play in the 11-week NPC. The ARU had previously been reluctant to release its contracted players because of pressure from the clubs, which complained that they needed them for the local competition.

But the grand final for the NSW club premiership will be held on August 19 this year, eight days after the NCP kicks off, so that it does not clash with the Olympics. That means Bond (Norths), Hardy (Gordon) and Ross (Brothers) will miss the opening match of the NCP if their club team secures a grand final berth.

ARU chief executive John O'Neil said today that any ARU-contracted players could play in the NPC on the proviso that it did not clash with their club commitments at home.

"We're not the only ones that are part of the decision-making process," O'Neil said. "If the Brumbies are happy, the players are happy and if it doesn't clash with any club commitments, then we'll put the ticks in the boxes."

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