Rugby Union: Offers mounting up for Greening

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The Independent Online
The directors of Gloucester will meet next week to discuss how to hold on to their young hooker Phil Greening, the subject of several big-money offers.

Less than a year ago, when he was still a relative unknown, Greening turned down an offer of pounds 85,000 a year to join Rob Andrew at Newcastle.

Since then the burly 21-year-old has made his full England debut, establishing himself as the country's No 2 hooker, and becoming an even hotter property.

Greening's agent, Mike Burton, the former Gloucester and England prop, said he has had offers for the hooker from Saracens, Newcastle, Wasps, Harlequins and Richmond, who are all funded by millionaire backers.

"I have got a lot of offers for him and I have informed Gloucester of them," Burton said. "We will have to sit down and discuss his future later in the week."

Gloucester's directors will discuss Greening's situation at a board meeting next Monday. They are likely to be torn between the desire to keep their young talent and the temptation to sell him to fund the recruitment of more players.

"We wouldn't want him to leave," David Foyle, the board chairman, said yesterday. "We haven't had an official offer but I gather there may be something we could consider at our board meeting on Monday."

Greening, who is Gloucester born and bred, has always said he wants to stay at Kingsholm and is not in the game for the money. "I'd rather play for Gloucester for 10p than leave home," he once said. But as the stakes rise with his own meteoric ascendancy, the temptation may become too much.

Crisis club Llanelli have announced they will hold an extraordinary general meeting at their Stradey Park ground on 29 January.

The club committee pre-empted a call for such a meeting from many of their 4,000 members, following the collapse of a pounds 3m investment package from the businessman Mel Davies.

Stuart Gallagher, the chairman and a former Wales cap at union and league, may have to face a call to stand down, along with the committee and trustees.

Gallagher admitted: "Our problems will be explained to the membership but it is obvious that times are difficult for everyone. When we look back at the season it will be seen as the one of the most disastrous in the history of the game."

The club need to stage home matches to bring revenue in and have rearranged their First Division match against Cardiff for Wednesday, 26 February.

England's leading clubs may have a couple of final demands as their dispute with the Rugby Football Union extends into a third year. Representatives of the Courage League One and Two teams met yesterday in separate locations to scrutinise the small print of the Rugby Football Union's draft agreement which English Professional Rugby Union Clubs recommended for acceptance last month.

There could be a signing in the next few weeks that would mean the creation of a joint Epruc-RFU company and a truce in the feud. But Epruc are expected to push for yet another change in the promotion-relegation situation between divisions One and Two.

They want only two teams relegated instead of four. There is a move to keep the First Division at 12 teams, with two relegated and two promoted.