Slipper heads south as Brumbies continue to replenish stocks
Photo: QRU Media / Brenden Hertel
The Brumbies have continued their off-season signing spree with the capture of Wallaby prop James Slipper on a two-year deal.
Capped 86 times for his country, the versatile prop has established himself as one of the best front rowers in the game since debuting in 2010. He made 104 Super Rugby appearances for the Queensland Reds, winning the title in 2011, and has featured in two Rugby World Cups for Australia.
Earlier this year, he was given a two-month ban for violating Rugby Australia’s illicit drugs policy, and the opportunity to resurrect his career in Canberra, and be a part of a club that is intent on getting itself back into title contention, is one that the 29-year-old is extremely grateful for.
“The Brumbies have always had a long history of making players better through their program, so to get a chance to be a part of that is very exciting and something I am looking forward to,” he said.
“When I spoke with Dan [McKellar] about 2019 and beyond I was very impressed, and I cannot thank both him and the Brumbies organisation enough for the opportunity to take my rugby career forward with them.”
Having made a well-publicised return to the game following his ban, as part of the Barbarians team that faced a Wallaby select side in the recent pre-Bledisloe trial at Leichhardt Oval, Slipper has been putting in some stellar performances for Queensland Country in the NRC, as the reigning champions try to defend the title they lifted last year.
A Man-of-the-Match effort in round one against Canberra Vikings was a hallmark of his displays thus far, each one showcasing his prodigious tight-five skills, trademark efforts in the loose, and an appetite for defensive work that will have Brumbies supporters licking their lips in anticipation of the 2019 season.
“We are excited to have a player of the calibre of James joining the Brumbies,” head coach McKellar enthused.
“When performing at his best James is a quality international prop. He brings very good set-piece, physicality and raw aggression, which are all qualities we look for in our front rowers. Clearly after playing over 80 tests and more than 100 Super Rugby games, he offers enormous experience to the group.
“We also understand that the last 12 months have been a challenging time for James and his family. However, following several meetings and discussions with James it is clear he is in now in a very good head space and is highly motivated to get back to professional rugby and prove a point.
“We believe that James will benefit from being a part of the Brumbies culture and environment and receive the support he needs to succeed. Something the Brumbies have always done is provide people with opportunity, and we feel that this is what we are offering James – an opportunity to get his career back on track and improve and grow as a player and a person.”
Slipper is just the latest to put pen to paper for the Brumbies as they look to kick-on from a positive and promising end to this season’s Super Rugby campaign. Newly capped Wallaby flanker Pete Samu has joined from the Crusaders, and he has been joined on his trip across the Tasman by lightning-fast winger Toni Pulu from the Chiefs, and Scottish-born lock Murray Douglas from the Hurricanes.
Exciting league recruit Tom Wright heads down the F3 from the Manly Sea Eagles for a cross-code switch, while centre Irae Simone is making a similar journey from the Waratahs for a chance to remind everyone exactly why he was one of the hottest young properties in the game just a couple of years ago.
JAMES SLIPPER STATISTICS:
DOB: 6/6/1989 (age: 29)
Birthplace: Gold Coast, QLD
School: The Southport School, Gold Coast, QLD
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 v Waratahs, Brisbane (Reds)
Super Rugby Caps: 104
Super Rugby Points: 25 (5T)
Wallaby Number: 843
Test Debut: 2010 v England, Perth
Test Caps: 86