Wallaby halfback Nick Phipps could be set to make the switch to the Premiership, RugbyPass can reveal.
The veteran scrumhalf is currently playing second fiddle in the Michael Cheika coached Wallabies to Will Genia.
Phipps is infamous for both his on and off-field antics – including disciplinary action taken against him for urinating against a public bar and pushing over a medic during a Rugby Championship match.
RugbyPass understands that London Irish are closing in the signature of the Waratah and that the controversial scrumhalf is in advanced talks with the Reading-based club.
Irish currently have talented 20-year-old England U20s nine Rory Brand, fellow Australian Ben Meenan, as well as Scott Steele and veteran Brendan McKibbin in their scrumhalf larder.
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The question is if the 70-cap Wallaby would move to England before or after the 2019 Rugby World Cup – which may well depend on whether or not he continues to be selected for the Wallabies leading into the tournament.
The 30-year-old would follow in the footsteps of fellow Australian scrumhalves Nic White and Nic Stirzaker, who both ply their trade in the Gallagher Premiership.
Phipps could also potentially join fellow Wallaby Adam Coleman, who RugbyPass reported yesterday is top of their current forwards wishlist.
Educated at The King’s School in Sydney, Phipps followed a less traditional route to the Wallabies. He was not in any schools or age representative teams and instead came through their Sevens system in 2010.
London Irish are set to bounce back up into the Premiership after a year in the Championship, and in the midst of serious rebuild – a rebuild that is being largely funded by the club’s share of the Premiership Rugby’s £200million minority stake sale to CVC Capital Partners.
Earlier in the month we also exclusively revealed that Irish had secured the services of Steve Mafi from Castres. The Tongan forward is set to earn in the region of £500,000 per annum as the Exiles reap the benefits of their share in the CVC investment windfall.
London Irish confirmed in December that it would leave Reading after 18 years playing at the Madejski Stadium.
The Madejski is around 30 miles away from its state-of-the-art training base in Sunbury and a move back to London had been on the cards.
The club confirmed they will be playing in London at the new Brentford Community Stadium from the start of the 2020/21 season.
In the early years of professional rugby London Irish quickly outgrew the capacity of its spiritual home at The Avenue in Sunbury and, needing to comply with Premiership Rugby requirements, had to move its home ground, initially sharing Harlequins stadium at The Stoop for one season in 1999 before then moving its first team games to the Madejski Stadium in 2000.
The club’s ambition has long been to return to west London and to re-establish itself closer to its historic base. London Irish’s management believes that the timing of the new Brentford stadium fits perfectly with this ambition and that the circumstances are now right to make this move.
The club has over the last few years been considering various stadium options and locations across London. At the same time Brentford FC unveiled exciting plans for a new community stadium and wider regeneration of a site just north of Kew Bridge which had strong synergies with London Irish’s own ambitions.
Now an agreement has been reached with Brentford FC allowing its games to be played at the new Brentford Community Stadium which is currently under construction and due to open in time for the 2020/21 season.
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