Saffas linked with NRL recruitment drive

South Africans will reportedly become targets for NRL clubs after Rugby Australia said “go for it”, as Australian Rugby League weighs up plans to poach rugby union players.

According to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald, ARL chairman Peter V’landys has considered handing NRL clubs salary cap relief of up to $1 million (R12.1m) each to encourage them to pursue 15-man professionals.

V’landys and his Rugby Australia counterpart Hamish McLennan have been at odds in the media over Australian union teams trying to recruit NRL stars and, in retaliation, it is believed that a fund is being established by the NRL to help lure players from non-rugby league countries like South Africa and Argentina.

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McLennan cheekily told the Sydney Morning Herald if that is the tactic, he would personally provide the contact details for SA Rugby president Mark Alexander and former Argentina captain Agustin Pichot so the NRL can “go for it”.

“I thought the scary league guys didn’t care about rugby union,” McLennan added. “Like we’ve always said, it’s a free market, but this shows how worried they are by the resurgence in rugby. It’s quite outstanding, really.

“I hope they go there. I think they’ll have fantastic success. I’ll give them all the names and numbers of who to call. I reckon they’ve got Buckley’s in those markets. They’ll be total snobs with league and would look down on it. But go for it.

“They should call the famous [former World Rugby vice-chairman] Gus Pichot in Argentina and Mark Alexander in South Africa and let them go for it.”

Photo: Deryck Foster/BackpagePix

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