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London Irish address the speculation that Curtis Rona went AWOL

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

Declan Kidney has responded to speculation that ex-Wallabies midfielder Curtis Rona went AWOL at London Irish amid speculation that he is looking for a move back to NRL in Australia. The 30-year-old, who was capped three times before falling out with Michael Cheika in 2017, made his sporting breakthrough in league, emerging at North Queensland Cowboys before switching to Canterbury Bulldogs.


It was at Western Force where Rona transitioned into rugby union and following two seasons at the Waratahs, he came to Europe and joined London Irish in 2019 following their return to the Gallagher Premiership as Championship champions.

Now into the second month of his fourth top-flight season at Irish, speculation emerged in the Australian media in recent days that he came close last month to signing a deal to return to the Western Force. However, those negotiations reportedly fell through and with him now said to be keen on NRL return, he allegedly went AWOL.

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A report on 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.”

Having started the opening three London Irish games in this season’s Premiership at outside centre, Rona was omitted for the round four game at home to Bath on October 1. Irish then had a bye week in round five and return to action this Friday at Sale. Ahead of that game, Kidney was asked at his media briefing about the reports that Rona went AWOL. “Leading into the Bath match, Curt wasn’t available for selection,” he said.


“That is one of the positions we are quite comfortable in as well in terms of cover. 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.

“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. We trained Sunday, Monday and we are just back into it today [Wednesday] for final preparations for Friday night. We do talk to players but it’s not appropriate to talk about any individual thing. That is why I wouldn’t broach that now here. But yeah, but that is what happened leading into the Bath match.”

Asked to confirm if Rona was back with the squad at London Irish, Kidney vaguely added: “Yeah, yeah, he is as much as I am here but you never know when any of us is going to be here. I remember being at a Miami Dolphins pre-season camp and the coach was asking about a player and this (other) coach was saying, ‘He will be good, he will be good’.

“He said, ‘Yeah, I know he will be good, I’m just hoping to be in a job when he does come good’. I don’t take anything for granted here myself and it’s the same with everybody, so if there are any changes (with Rona) we will let you know.”


Kidney was speaking to the media at 10:45am on Wednesday. By 4pm the same day, London Irish had confirmed that Rona had left the club with immediate effect.



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