Rooney completes Rebels switch
June 29, 2010
Toulon fullback Luke Rooney is the latest player to sign for Super 15 expansion side Melbourne Rebels © Getty Images
Toulon fullback Luke Rooney has become the latest player to agree a switch to Super 15 expansion side the Melbourne Rebels after agreeing a two-year deal.
The former Penrith Panthers winger has spent the last two seasons in France's Top 14 having quit Australia's the NRL in 2008 and was in line for a move to English club Worcester before they were relegated from the Premiership.
"I was keen to come home and have a crack at Super Rugby because it's the best competition in the world," said the 27-year-old. "And it's going to get better next year with the Rebels coming on board. It was an experience I really wanted to have and to see where it may take me. I'll be concentrating on playing my very best rugby for the Rebels. After that, who knows?"
A statement from the Warriors said, "Worcester Warriors can today confirm it is has reached an agreement with the Australian Rugby Union that will see Luke Rooney return to Australia and therefore not see his contract out at Sixways Stadium.
"As part of the agreement, Warriors have agreed that they will continue to have an option with Luke should he make a return to Northern Hemisphere rugby in the future. We would like to wish Luke all the best in his future domestic and international career."
As a former Australian rugby league international with six caps to his name, Rooney has not ruled out the possibility of becoming a dual international. But he admitted it was far too early to be thinking of higher honours after only recently turning his back on plans to play for England as a British passport holder.
"Of course it would be great to play for the Wallabies, but I've got so much work to do before I can think of getting there," he said. "My focus when I return home will be getting myself ready for the Super Rugby season next year."
Rooney is the latest antipodean to leave Toulon, his exit coming hot on the heels of former Bulldog Sonny Bill Williams moving to New Zealand to play with Canterbury and the Crusaders.
Commenting on Rooney's commitment to the Rebels, coach Rod Macqueen said, "Luke expressed great interest in returning to Australia and playing for the Rebels. He's got the speed, strength and size to be a great back in rugby. I believe he is going to be a wonderful asset for the Rebels."
Following the confirmation of Rooney's decision, Worcester announced the capture of winger Tom Arscott on a two-year contract from Bristol, completing the club's recruitment for their new Championship campaign.