Australia try to lure back Davies

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The Independent Online
JONATHAN DAVIES is to be pressed to return to rugby league for one game in Australia this summer. He will be asked to earn at least part of the pounds 100,000 loyalty bonus he received from the Australian Rugby League by playing in their showpiece event of the coming season - a match between Australia and the Rest of the World in Melbourne in August.

The ARL signed up Davies, for that pounds 100,000 up-front payment, while he was playing for the North Queensland Cowboys last summer. The terms of the contract were that he should not play for the new, rival Super League organisation at club or international level.

After captaining Wales in the World Cup last autumn, however, Davies reverted to rugby union with Cardiff when they struck a deal with his English rugby league club, Warrington. It means that he has not played a single game for the ARL since taking their money. They will now exert every pressure to try to get him to play in August, even going as far as attempting to reclaim their money.

"I haven't heard anything from them about this match, so I can't really comment," said Davies, who is at present out of action with a knee injury. "But I haven't broken my contract with the ARL, which was not to play for the Super League."

The ARL, having spent huge amounts of money on signing up players like Davies and Ellery Hanley, are desperate to recoup something from their investment. With the battle against Super League still raging, credibility is a vital commodity and the lack of any genuine international dimension is the ARL's great weakness.

They can field the Australian team that won the Centenary World Cup and can thus claim to be world champions, but with all other leading league- playing nations signed up with Super League, their problem lies in finding suitable opposition.

British players such as Phil Clarke and Lee Jackson who are already with ARL clubs would be in the Rest of the World side, but others, such as Wigan's Jason Robinson and Gary Connolly, are still in England completing their existing contracts and would be highly unlikely to be released. That leaves Davies as the one British-based player who would, in theory, be available. "It's unlikely that I would be interested," Davies said. "Besides, Cardiff have a tour to the Bahamas in August." The Super League-aligned New Zealand RL has banned players who played for New Zealand in the ARL-run Sydney Sevens last week from representative rugby.

l Workington have been taken over by the marketing specialist Bob Jamieson, ending nearly 50 years of involvement with the club by its main shareholder Tom Mitchell.