Treviso lined up for Celtic League

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The Independent Online

Treviso could enter the Celtic League next year after the Italian Rugby Federation said yesterday it was unhappy with economic guarantees offered by the Praetorians franchise.

Italy is being allowed to field two teams in the Irish, Scottish and Welsh domestic league in a bid to boost the national side's strength, with Rome-based Praetorians and Aironi originally chosen.

The federation said in a statement that Aironi, an amalgamation of northern teams based in Viadana, was ready to compete but that a final decision on the second team would be taken at a later date with Treviso now looking favourite.

Fresh from his selection in Australia's 43-man train-on squad for November's Spring Tour of the United Kingdom, Salesi Ma'afu has signed a new three-year deal with the Brumbies.

The 26-year-old tighthead prop, who captained West Harbour in this year's Shute Shield, re-signed with the ACT-based club yesterday with a number of provincial and Test goals in mind.

''I'm really happy to be staying with the Brumbies for another three years,'' he said. ''I've been at the Brumbies for four years now, they were the team that originally gave me my opportunity and I'm pleased I can repay the loyalty to them.

''I feel like I've got plenty of development left in my game. We made some big improvements this year but there's still plenty of room to build on that. My goals are still to represent the Wallabies and win a Super Rugby title – I'd love to do that with the Brumbies and I think it's something we can achieve in the next three years.''

Ma'afu has played 29 Super 14 matches since making his debut against the Chiefs in 2007. He represented Australia A in the 2007 and 2008 Pacific Nations Cup and was a member of the Barbarians side that defeated the World Cup-winning Springboks at Twickenham in 2007.

Coach Andy Friend said Ma'afu was a key player to the future of the Brumbies. ''Salesi's a big unit and someone who can anchor a scrum,'' he said. ''He does give the front row versatility being able to play both sides of the scrum and he's a player who's been very focused on improving his game and improving himself physically this season."