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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 17:07 GMT
Aussie coach warns rugby league bosses
Wendell Sailor and the Brisbane Broncos
The ARU has finally landed Sailor (front centre)
Australia coach Chris Anderson has called on rugby league bosses to stop defections to rugby union after Brisbane Broncos winger Wendell Sailor's decision to change codes.

The move by the World Cup star is a big scalp for the Australian Rugby Union, as it is the first time they have lured an international Test player away from league.

Anderson, who is also Melbourne Storm's coach, is worried that more players will follow in Sailor's footsteps, seduced by cash incentives that rugby league cannot match.

"The game needs to be aware of it and take steps to ensure that it doesn't become a flood," he said.

We need to ensure we can pay our senior players as much as we can and we need to make sure our international football is up to scratch
  Chris Anderson
"We can't put our heads in the sand and say this isn't going to happen again."

As a player who has achieved all he can for club and country, it may not be surprising that Sailor, who scored two tries in last year's World Cup final, needs a fresh challenge in a new sport.

But Broncos officials have claimed that they were unable to re-sign the talented winger because the salary cap in rugby league is too low.

Brisbane Broncos' managing director Shane Edwards has already spoken to National Rugby League boss David Moffett about proposed modifications to the salary cap.


Not everyone is convinced that Sailor's switch will hail a rugby league exodus.

Australia and Melbourne Storm coach Chris Anderson
Anderson thinks rugby league's future is in doubt
Sydney Morning Herald rugby league reporter Brad Walter claims that the ARU's gain is not that much of a loss to the NRL.

"From a rugby union point of view, Sailor's decision is very significant," he said.

"But for rugby league, it's the first Test player to defect after years of the ARU trying, so it's not the end of the world."

As Walter points out, the ARU will hope that fans of the 26-year-old winger will now go to see rugby union matches instead, but rugby league supporters may not change allegiance overnight.

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See also:

02 Feb 01 |  Rugby League
ARU admits Sailor will not sign
22 Jan 01 |  Rugby League
Sailor on course for UK
22 Dec 00 |  Rugby League
Sailor ponders code switch
27 Jan 01 |  Rugby League
Long pays tribute to Saints triumph
06 Feb 01 |  Rugby League
Sailor changes direction
07 Feb 01 |  Rugby League
Sailor switches codes
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