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Ex-Wallabies Phipps and Naiyaravoro join the same club

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Two of the many players left without a Gallagher Premiership contract at the end of the 2021/22 season have finally secured their futures, the Green Rockets Tokatsu unveiling former Wallabies Nick Phipps and Taqele Naiyaravoro as new signings for the 2023 Top League campaign.     

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Phipps, the 33-year-old scrum-half capped on 72 occasions by his country, was out of contract after his three-year stay at London Irish ended in June. Likewise Naiyaravoro, the twice-capped 30-year-old Wallabies winger who found himself at a loose end after four years at Northampton.  

The pair were just two of numerous Premiership players left without a contract due to the financial squeeze in England caused by the salary cap reduction, but they can now breathe a sigh of relief that they have a club to play for next season. 

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“I’m very much looking forward to joining NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu,” enthused Phipps on the Japanese club’s website. “The direction the club is heading inspires me and I hope my experience will help the team in the coming season. 

“I really want to be a part of building something great at the club and help us reach our full potential. Thank you for giving me this chance. Go Rockets!!”

Naiyaravoro also shared his thoughts on the club website, saying: “I am very grateful to NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu for welcoming me. I’m honoured and looking forward to playing. My goal for this season is to express myself and contribute to the team by maximizing my strengths. Achieving these goals with GR Tokatsu would be my greatest joy.”

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Phipps, whose Twitter bio describes him as being on gardening leave, spoke to RugbyPass last September about the restricted contracts situation in England. “There is this sort of fairy tale back home in Australia that there are abundant contracts and playing opportunities overseas, especially in the northern hemisphere,” he said. 

“There isn’t really and the more competitions tighten up their eligibility rules and salary caps and stuff like that, the fewer opportunities there are.”

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