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NZ Herald - Sport Story

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Rugby: Rich French crazy for All Blacks

Byron Kelleher could be playing for Agen next year.

Ambitious French outfit Agen want to build a super club and are close to signing Byron Kelleher and Nick Evans as French clubs turn the power of their cheque books on the All Blacks.

Agen want to sign a New Zealand halfback and first five and other current All Blacks. They targeted Carlos Spencer but when the former All Black stayed loyal to Northampton, they switched their attention to Evans.

The Highlanders' pivot is off contract after the World Cup and is expected to sign with Agen who sources say have offered €330,000 (about $630,000) a season.

Kelleher, a friend of former All Black prop Kees Meeuws who is currently at the club, is thought to have signed a deal conditional on Agen securing other international players.

France has gone crazy for things New Zealand, with almost every major club offering unprecedented cash in the hope of luring All Blacks. Also heading to France after the World Cup is Anton Oliver who has signed with one of the major outfits.

Luke McAlister has been approached by Toulouse and Biarritz and a host of other clubs.

Doug Howlett and Ali Williams have been bombarded with offers from French clubs in recent weeks and other experienced Super 14 men are receiving offers to play in France that some agents can barely believe.

The explosion of interest from France has been fuelled by a broadcast deal being negotiated to televise the hugely popular French club championship, a deal that will make it possible for owners to make money from the sport.

Wealthy benefactors have been attracted to rugby and have pumped serious cash into both established and emerging clubs. The enormous publicity and kudos earned by Toulon when they secured Tana Umaga on a short-term deal has also inspired other owners to chase legendary All Blacks.

The supreme performance by the All Blacks on November 11 when they hammered France 47-3 in Lyon has also played its part in inflating the value of New Zealand players.

While top All Blacks have always been able to earn major contracts in France, the numbers being bandied around in recent weeks suggest the values have taken a serious leap.

Whereas a test star could hope for maybe €230,000-260,000 a few years back, now he is looking at €300,000-350,000 a season.

Those sorts of numbers as well as the lifestyle opportunities make a compelling package which is why Evans and Kelleher are ready to commit and join Oliver in France.

With Chris Jack close to signing a deal with Saracens and Aaron Mauger already signed with Leicester, the New Zealand Rugby Union will be keen to hold on to McAlister, Howlett and Williams.

David Jones, who represents Howlett and Williams, says at this stage neither of his clients is thinking about an overseas move.

"We have had offers pouring in for both Doug and Ali but neither player has requested them," said Jones.

"We had a French club inquire about Doug just the other day but we are not in discussion with any club."

McAlister's position is less clear with his father, Charlie, intimating that there are several factors to consider. Negotiations about a contract extension are progressing with the NZRU but against that,

McAlister is weighing up whether it might be better to take a European sabbatical in 2008 and return to New Zealand in time to try to win back a place in the All Black squad for the 2011 World Cup.

"There are plenty of options but Luke is focusing on playing as well as he can for the Blues at this stage and keeping himself in the All Black frame," said McAlister senior.

"Hopefully he will have made a decision by the end of the month or early next month."

At just 23, McAlister has an enormous future and the ability to become a fixture in the All Black No 12 shirt.

Losing McAlister would be a massive blow as he would be one of the most promising All Blacks to head overseas in the professional era.

The NZRU has been aware for some time that it would probably lose Jack, Kelleher and Oliver, who have been long and loyal servants.

Oliver hinted some time ago that he would be retiring.

The 31-year-old had planned to quit the game at the end of the 2004 season to pursue a long-held desire to study at either Cambridge or Oxford Universities.

A dramatic All Black recall led to a change of heart and he re-signed through to the World Cup. Late last year he said signing an overseas contract post-2007 held limited appeal, fuelling the belief he would

rekindle his efforts to find a place to study.

But a late change of heart driven by a new-found desire to have one last rugby experience.

So far, the only good news for the NZRU has been the decision by Tony Woodcock to sign for another two years.

bryon.jpg

Byron Kelleher could be playing for Agen next year.

Sunday March 11, 2007

By Gregor Paul

NZ Herald.co.nz

:rolleyes:

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Visiblement, Anton Oliver a déjà donné son accord pour un club français... Lequel ?

Au ST on aura déjà 3 talons : Servat, Basualdo et Lacombe.

Non, le club qui a besoin de talons, c'est le SF :rolleyes:

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Visiblement, Anton Oliver a déjà donné son accord pour un club français... Lequel ?

Il aurait donné son accord à un club, pas forcemment français.

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evans à agen??????? :original:

je croyais qu'on était dessus.......à croire une fois de plus que quand on nous balance un nom il va signer dans un autre club :rolleyes:

par contre si kelleher et evans vont à agen bravo ......

nous si c'est pour récupérer gelez....... :smile:

tout le monde va nous moquer :shuriken:

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Sauf si servat doit passer en 8 ou si basualdo doit jouer à gauche.

Non, il n'est pas envisageable que notre seconde et dernière place de joueur extra-comunautaire soit attribuée à Oliver, poste pour lequel nous n'avons un réel besoin.

Cette place-là sera réservée pour un pilier, un N°8 ou bien encore un N°10 !

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Also heading to France after the World Cup is Anton Oliver who has signed with one of the major outfits.
Visiblement, Anton Oliver a déjà donné son accord pour un club français... Lequel ?

Il aurait donné son accord à un club, pas forcemment français.

Si, c'est bien un club français.

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Guest Nico87

Castres est déjà sur l'australien Jeremy Paul et sur Sébastien Bruno

pour le poste de talonneur.

Moi je vois bien Agen ou l'USAP pour Oliver.

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ça rapporte les pruneaux :P parce que si Byron vient à Agen, vu qu'il y a quelques temps vous parliez de King Los à l'ouverture, maman quelle équipe.

Et Victor il fait rêver personne mon Victor,double mètre pour 110 kilos de muscle, ça fait pas rêver :P

04_matfield.jpg

et ne vous affolez pas les gazelles pour son beau corps d'athlète, Victor est très très marié avec la sublimissime Monja Bekker et la seule autre femme de sa vie et Jaime sa p'tite fifille qui est belle comme un p'tit coeur :whist:

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ignat_02.gif j'ai pas le temps de tout lire mais là j'ai vu.

Victor Imperator et Boella + Shaun + Pieter + Brian = 5 :smile: mon soutient sera indéfectible et j'ai déjà les drapeaux :P

Sinon Willem de Waal vient en France :whist: j'espère que vous ne me faites pas un fausse joie parce que je saute déjà au plafond et que j'aime pas être déçue :P

Edited by leilei
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Je rajoute que si si Willem est titulaire chez les Cheetahs, Rassie a vu ce que ça donnait sans lui et maintenant Herkie passe au centre :P

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