The Wallabies have secured the return to Australia of the highly rated Toulon full back Luke Rooney – and ended his plans to possibly qualify for England and the British & Irish Lions.
The former rugby league international has signed a two-year deal with Australian Rugby which will see him join the newly-established Melbourne Rebels in next year’s expanded Super Rugby competition.
The 27-year-old, capped six times by the Kangaroos, quit his homeland in 2008 and spent the past two seasons in the south of Francewith high flying Toulon. He helped them reach the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup and reach the semi-finals of the French Championship last season.
He signed to play for WorcesterWarriors next season where, as the holder of a British passport, he harboured faint hopes of perhaps qualifying to play for England.
But the Warriors were relegated from the Guinness Premiership last season and agreed with the Australian RugbyUnionto the release of Rooney.
“I was keen to come home and I was keen to have a crack at Super Rugby because it’s the best competition in the world and it’s going to get better next year with the Rebels coming on board,” explained Rooney.
“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 and, after that, who knows?
“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. My focus when I return home will be getting myself ready for the Super Rugbyseason next year.”
Rooney played primarily at full back for Toulon, playing 16 games in the Top 14 in his initial year and scoring five tries. During his rugby league career he played on the wing at State of Originlevel for New South Wales and made 140 appearances for the Penrith Panthers.