Wallaby to offer insde info

The Wallabies could have a spy in Lions territory in the lead up to the 2013 tour Down Under. [more]

Wallaby to offer insde info

The Wallabies could have a spy in Lions territory in the lead up to the 2013 tour Down Under.

Britain and Ireland’s elite head to Australia in two summers’ time looking to avenge their heartbreaking defeat to the then World Champions 10 years ago.

And while Sir Ian McGeechan has already talked about the importance of gathering as much information as possible on the opposition and environment ahead of the three-match series, the Wallabies themselves could be handed a unique insight into British and Irish rugby.

If the Lions had toured Australia when they headed to South Africa in 2009, Ryan Cross would almost certainly have been among the men facing them on the battle field. But Cross’ Wallaby career appears to have to come to an end and the 31-year-old could now be on his way to the UK.

Centre cum wing Cross has won 18 caps for his country since 2008 but has now found himself down the pecking order with the emergence of the likes of James O’Connor, Rod Davies, Anthony Faingaa, Lachie Turner and Pat McCabe as well as the impressive form of Adam Ashley-Cooper and Digby Ioane.

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And with his Wallaby aspirations now longer a realistic goal, Waratahs star Cross is being heavily linked with a move to Aviva Premiership outfit Newcastle Falcons.

Such a switch would lead to Cross seeing the strengths and weaknesses of British and Irish rugby first-hand, something the Wallaby management would likely want to tap into before the Lions come calling.

If Cross does head to Kingston Park, he would follow in the footsteps of another former Wallaby Matt Burke. The World Cup winning full back became a hero in the North East of England during his three-year spell with the Falcons having previously kicked the Wallabies to the 2-1 series win over the Lions in 2001. 

But while Cross’ transfer to Newcastle looked to have been close to a done deal last week, the move has now been thrown into doubt after he was spotted having lunch with Tim Sheens, coach of Australian rugby league side the Wests Tigers.

Cross played the 13-a-side version of the sport for Sydney Roosters between 1998 and 2006 and has now admitted that a return to league remains a possibility.

“Definitely rugby league has always been close to my heart, and I’ve grown up with it,” said Cross, whose father previously starred in that sport.

“It was never really something that I considered I would go back to, but now that I’ve been back in Sydney for 12 months, it’s a big possibility.

“I do still want to continue playing football – the body feels good. Obviously, my dad played at the Tigers, and I was a supporter as a kid, so hopefully something can be worked out.”

Newcastle meanwhile have insisted that the deal to bring Cross to England remains likely to go ahead, with the Chronicle newspaper claiming that the player’s agent believes his conversation with Sheen was merely a chance to assess his option should his switch to England fall through.

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