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Curtis Rona has left London Irish with immediate effect

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former Wallabies midfielder Curtis Rona has quit London Irish with immediate effect to take up an opportunity in Japan. A recent media report had suggested that the centre, who was capped three times before falling out with Michael Cheika in 2017, had gone AWOL from the Gallagher Premiership and was looking for a move back to the NRL in Australia.

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A report on nine.com.au read: “Former Wallaby Curtis Rona is poised to return to rugby league after a bizarre series of events in recent weeks. Rona came close to signing with Super Rugby franchise Western Force last month before the deal fell through.

“The 30-year-old outside back then went missing from his current club, London Irish in Britain, last week, and phone calls from friends and teammates have been going unanswered. Sources close to the talented try-scorer have said that Rona is keen on a return to the NRL, with the Gold Coast Titans the favourites to gain his services for next season.”

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London Irish boss Declan Kidney was vague with his answers when asked on Wednesday morning about the current situation with Rona, who started the opening three games in this season’s Premiership at outside centre but was omitted for the round four win at home to Bath on October 1.

Irish then had a bye week in round five and ahead of the return to action this Friday at Sale, Kidney said: “Leading into the Bath match, Curt wasn’t available for selection. That is one of the positions we are quite comfortable in as well in terms of cover.

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“We have a number of international standard players like Luca Morisi, Lucio Cinti, Will (Joseph). They were all available to play so we played Will in the Bath match (at No13). Obviously, we are always talking to different players at different stages and things like that, but because Curtis was such a steadfast in the team there were bound to be some questions about that.

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“But that was the story going into the Bath match and we had a fallow week last week, so we are just back in training now again this week,” continued Kidney, who added when asked if Rona was back with the Irish squad this week: “Yeah, yeah, he is as much as I am here but you never know when any of us is going to be here.”

That media briefing took place at 10:45am and by 4pm, London Irish had issued a media statement confirming the immediate departure of Rona from the club. It read: “Curtis Rona is set to leave London Irish with immediate effect to pursue a playing opportunity in Japan. Rona, who made 77 appearances and scored 16 tries for the Exiles, has made the decision to leave after initially joining the Club in preparation for the 2019/20 campaign.”

Rona said: “Thank you to the supporters and everyone at London Irish for making me feel so welcome at the club from the first day that I arrived. I want to thank the players, staff and coaches for everything that they have done for me, and I wish London Irish nothing but the best for the future.”

Kidney added: “We are disappointed to see Curtis go. We wish him and his family well on their next adventure and thank him for his efforts in the London Irish shirt.”

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