Davies plans a return to union

Robert Cole reports on a Welsh international set to change codes again
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JONATHAN DAVIES is ready to start what could well develop into a mass return from rugby league to rugby union once the International Rugby Board have sanctioned a free gangway between the two codes at their meeting in Tokyo this week.

That is expected to happen on Friday, and Davies will become a Cardiff rugby union player in a deal estimated to be worth pounds 200,000 at the end of the rugby league World Cup in October.

Warrington are prepared to terminate the Great Britain player's contract two years early and Davies has met Cardiff businessmen to set-up a financial package to allow him to return. "Jon wants to come home, and if we can arrange the right package I'd expect to see him playing on the Arms Park before the end of the year," Gareth Davies, Cardiff's chief executive, said. "Things are still at a very early stage, but we have been talking to Jon for a while."

Davies, soon to be 33, has been negotiating for a part-time job with a Welsh sports-ground company, which he might take up after the World Cup. The key to his return is Warrington, who are likely to forgo "compensation" and settle for saving pounds 200,000 in wages over the next two years. Capped 27 times by Wales, Davies turned professional with Widnes for pounds 150,000 in 1988, and joined Warrington on a free transfer two years ago.

Gary Pearce, another former Wales fly-half, is contemplating legal action to resume his rugby union playing career after more than a decade in rugby league. The 34-year-old former Llanelli back wants to play for the East Yorkshire junior side Pocklington in the Courage League, and has received international clearance to switch back by the Welsh Rugby Union after sitting out the mandatory three-year qualifying period.

But Pearce, who played for Hull, Scarborough and York in rugby league, is being blocked by the Rugby Football Union and plans to start legal proceedings to overturn their decision.

Kevin Ellis, Davies's former Warrington team-mate, and the former Wales scrum-half David Bishop, at present coaching the junior club Old Illtydians, are also hoping to return to union.