Slipper re-signs with Australian Rugby
August 11, 2011
James Slipper has enjoyed a meteoric rise © Getty Images
On the eve of the Wallabies' must-win Test against the Springboks in Durban, sidelined prop James Slipper has re-signed with the Queensland Reds and the Australian Rugby Union (ARU).
Slipper is widely regarded as the future of the Australian front-row as this year's Rugby World Cup looms, and is currently on the comeback trail following an ankle syndesmosis injury. The 22-year-old was first capped by the Wallabies last year while still on a development contract with his state, and has now signed on for a further two years.
"It's good to get it [the contract] sorted out," Slipper says. "I've enjoyed the experience I've had to date, both playing for Queensland and with the Wallabies, but I really feel that I am only just getting started. Certainly I hope that is the case. I know I'll have to keep working hard and improving my game to make sure that it is!"
Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who introduced Slipper to Test rugby after a remarkably brief apprenticeship, says Slipper was a key acquisition.
"They're all important," Deans says of the players who have re-signed with Australian Rugby this year, "but there's no doubt that keeping James was critical. To achieve all that he did last year, off the [limited] background that he'd had, was a testament to his attitude, his belief and his work ethic.
"That he was able to kick on this season with the Reds, even though he had the misfortune to miss out on the finals, was another great indicator for his future. He presumes nothing and is prepared to do whatever it takes."
Despite not playing for two months, Slipper's name is expected to be announced when Deans names his 30-man World Cup squad next Thursday. He is tipped to compete with Brumbies prop Ben Alexander for the No.3 jersey when the Wallabies start their World Cup campaign against Italy in Auckland on September 11.
"It's been frustrating," Slipper said of his current injury. "I haven't been a good watcher, but at least I've been able to be involved with the Wallabies, in terms of keeping up-to-date with what the boys are up to. Working the way back from injury is not something I've had much experience doing, and I haven't enjoyed the process, but it certainly hasn't hurt with the hunger. Once you've had the taste of something, and then had to go without, it only makes you all the more desperate to have that experience again."
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