Worcester deny deal with Larkham

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The Independent Online

Worcester's director of rugby, John Brain, yesterday denied reports that the National First Division champions had signed the Australian fly-half Stephen Larkham.

The Wallaby, who has won 65 caps, was reported to have signed a three-year deal worth £1m, but Brain said: "There is no truth in the story. We have talked to his agent, but the last I had any contact with him was three weeks ago. And I think the figures quoted are the ones Larkham is looking for from an English club."

But Brain did admit that the club was looking to sign experienced players. "The pack is an area where we know we have to recruit quality players if we are to compete in the Premiership," he said.

Although Brain refused to reveal names, Worcester have spoken to another Wallaby, the lock Tom Bowman. Rotherham's flanker Leon Greef has also been targeted by them, while Brain stated he would be looking for front-row players in France. "The scrum is far more technical in France and forwards develop much faster over there," he said.

The Montferrand hooker Olivier Azam and Agen's Argentine tighthead Omar Hasan Jalil are both possible targets, though they are expected to join Sale.

One player definitely on the move is the Bath full-back Iain Balshaw, who has joined Leeds on a three-year contract. Bath also saw the scrum-half Ross Blake leave to join neighbours Bristol, and they signed their head coach, John Connolly, to a new one-year deal yesterday.