Rugby: Ex All Black to sign for Melbourne

Greg Somerville
Greg Somerville

Former All Blacks and Crusaders prop Greg Somerville is reportedly poised to sign with Super 15 rugby expansion franchise the Melbourne Rebels.

If the deal is finalised it ends any prospect of Somerville returning home and being available for the 2011 World Cup squad as New Zealand Rugby Union policy precludes overseas-based players being eligible for All Black selection.

Adept at both playing both sides of the front row, Somerville would be the first All Black acquired by Rebels coach Rod Macqueen as the former Wallabies World Cup-winning coach continues to build his squad ahead of next season's debut in the enlarged Sanzar tournament.

Somerville, 32, may have been of interest to All Blacks management for next year's World Cup considering premier tighthead prop Carl Hayman has opted to extend his career in Europe with French club Toulon.

Somerville played the last of his 66 tests in the inaugural offshore Bledisloe Cup test at Hong Kong in 2008 before joining England premiership club Gloucester.

"I'm happy to say Greg Somerville is one of the players we are talking to," Rebels head coach Rod Macqueen told Australian media.

Somerville would join a growing playing roster that features Wallabies centre Stirling Mortlock, former England first five-eighth Danny Cipriani and Welsh loose forward Gareth Delve.

The Rebels are also keen to sign former National Rugby League centre Mark Gasnier and current Kangaroos international Israel Folau, who came to prominence at the Melbourne Storm before switching to the Brisbane Broncos.

- NZPA

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