ARU withdraws lucrative offer to Gasnier
May 10, 2006 - 9:24AM
Rugby league star Mark Gasnier's flirtation with changing codes is over after the Australian Rugby Union (ARU withdrew its offer.
The ARU called a halt when Gasnier failed to meet its 3pm deadline for a decision on whether he'd accept a deal to join the NSW Waratahs with the lure of challenging to play for the Wallabies at next year's World Cup.
It had previously given the Australia and St George-Illawarra centre an extension to allow him to concentrate on last Friday's rugby league Test against New Zealand.
But Gasnier's manager George Mimis said, after meeting with St George Illawarra officials on Tuesday night, his client needed more time to make a decision and couldn't meet the deadline.
ARU officials reportedly felt burnt when they missed out on signing Andrew Johns from rugby league in 2004 after lengthy talks.
ARU CEO Gary Flowers made it clear the ARU felt it had waited long enough for Gasnier to make up his mind but commended his conduct in negotiations.
"Our offer to Mark was both genuine and generous, as was the deadline," said Flowers.
"Mark contacted us in March to express his interest in playing rugby, and for the past month we have had some very constructive discussions, but at all times we have had mutually agreed deadlines.
"We had made it clear to Mark that we had commitments and deadlines to honour with other people and we therefore need to move on and progress those discussions.
"We have always said we think Mark would make a big impact in rugby, and felt he would be challenged and motivated by the possibility of playing for the Wallabies on the international stage and potentially playing in a Rugby World Cup.
"Our feelings about Mark's potential in rugby have not changed.
"John Connolly, Michael O'Connor and Ewen McKenzie have all indicated that Mark has the skills, athleticism and professionalism to make a successful conversion to rugby.
"From a personal perspective, everyone who has met him including Rob Clarke and myself, have been very impressed with the professional manner with which he has conducted himself.
"We originally had a mutually agreed deadline of last week, but agreed to extend that until today.
"However it is now time for us to move on and concentrate on our other contracting priorities."
NSW Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie said he hoped Gasnier didn't have any regrets.
"I too was impressed by Mark as a person and a footballer and I thought our package matched his abilities and rugby playing potential," McKenzie said.
"He's always maintained that it wasn't about the money and let's hope he doesn't regret not coming across because Lote, Wendell and Mat Rogers certainly haven't regretted their decisions.
"I'm disappointed, but it's a complicated time of the year and I can't afford to wait any longer if I'm to finalise our future playing roster."